China: British PM in limbo after MPs reject his Brexit plan, elections

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

British PM in limbo after MPs reject his Brexit plan, elections

AFP
British PM in limbo after MPs reject his Brexit plan, elections

AFP

A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gesturing as he reacts to main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn during his first Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons in London on September 4, 2019.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government was left in limbo on Wednesday after MPs voted to derail his Brexit plan and rejected his call for an early election to break the political deadlock.

Just six weeks after taking office, Johnson lost his majority in the House of Commons as his own MPs joined opposition parties to stop him taking Britain out of the EU next month without a deal.

On Wednesday evening, they approved a bill that could force Johnson to delay Brexit to January or even later if he cannot agree exit terms with Brussels in time.

Johnson says he does not want a “no deal” exit on October 31 but says he must keep that option open in order to get an agreement.

He said the bill, which was being debated in the upper House of Lords into the night, “destroys the ability of government to negotiate” — and said he had no option to call an election to win a new mandate.

“If I’m still prime minister after (the vote on) Tuesday October 15 then we will leave on October 31 with, I hope, a much better deal,” he told MPs.

Labour rejects ‘cynical’ move

But in yet another twist in the tortuous Brexit process, the opposition Labour Party refused to vote for the election, which requires the backing of two-thirds of MPs.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that while he wanted an election, he would not support the prime minister’s “cynical” call until the law blocking “no deal” was implemented.

The default legal position is that Britain will leave the EU on October 31 unless it delays or asks to stay in the bloc.

Corbyn said: “Let this bill pass, then gain royal assent, then we will back an election so we do not crash out with a no-deal exit from the European Union.”

Johnson accused Corbyn of being frightened of losing, but urged the opposition to reconsider over the next few days.

For now, he is unable to pursue his Brexit plan — the central focus of his leadership — or call an election that might change the situation.

Across the Atlantic, US President Donald Trump earlier offered his support, telling reporters: “Boris knows how to win. Don’t worry about him. He’s going to be OK.”

‘Sham’ negotiations

Johnson took office in July, three years after the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU, promising to deliver Brexit whatever happens.

He says he wants to renegotiate the divorce deal his predecessor Theresa May agreed with Brussels, while at the same time stepping up preparations for a disorderly exit.

Johnson insisted his team was making “substantial progress.”

But the bloc has so far refused to reopen the text, and a senior EU source poured cold water on the idea that a deal could be struck at next month’s Brussels summit.

The European Commission says Britain has yet to come up with any alternative for the most controversial element of the current deal, the so-called “backstop” plan for the Irish border.

Corbyn said the negotiations Johnson talked about “are a sham — all he’s doing is running down the clock.”

The European Commission also said the risk of a “no deal” exit has increased, a prospect many fear because of the economic damage risked by severing 46 years of UK-EU ties overnight.

Saudis: EU to Observe Elections in Tunisia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

EU to Observe Elections in Tunisia

Sunday, 4 August, 2019 – 11:45
The head of Tunisian Independent High Authority for Elections, Nabil Baffoun, attends a news conference in Tunis, Tunisia, March 6, 2019. Reuters file photo
Tunis – Mongi Saidani
The European Union announced sending a 38-member Election Observation Mission (EOM) on August 23 to overlook presidential and parliamentary elections in Tunisia. It said this move comes as a response to a request by the Independent High Authority for Elections.

Ten observers will be deployed in Tunis, with the remainder distributed to several polling stations throughout the country.

According to the EU, the mission will work “independently, impartially and fully in line with international standards,” to monitor elections.

This would give greater credibility to the elections’ results and maintain the level of political support for the emerging Tunisian democracy.

Ten candidates have submitted their papers to run for the early presidential elections, scheduled to be held on September 15.

Five among these 10 represent well-known political parties including Head of the Democratic Patriots’ Unified Party Mongi Rahoui, President of the Democratic Current Mohamed Abbou, Head of the Republican People’s Union (L’Union Populaire Républicaine) Lotfi Mraihi, President of the Free Destourian Party (Free Constitutional Party) Abir Moussi and Head of the Heart of Tunisia Party Nabil Karoui

The other five, however, are independent and don’t represent any political party in the country, and they include Mounir Joumai, Nidal Karim, Hamdi Alia.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, Defense Minister Abdul Karim al-Zubaidi and former Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa are also expected to run for the presidential elections.

The number of political and social parties backing Zubaidi has increased on Saturday after leaderships of Ennahda Party and Nidaa Tounes announced they would vote for him.

In this context, Head of Tunisian Independent High Authority for Elections Nabil Baffoun affirmed the proposal to revise chapter 49 of the Tunisian Electoral Code concerning the appeals of the results relating to the presidential elections, or the enactment of a special statute relating to the electoral dates for the premature elections.

In case the deadlines were shortened, coordination with the Administrative Court (a court that hears appeals by the candidates) will take place in a bid to respect the constitutional term for electing new president within a maximum period of 90 days, which ends on October 24.

If the parliament approves the Independent High Authority for Elections’ proposal, the second round of presidential elections will be held before September 29, respecting constitutional deadlines.

Israel: From Europe to the Arctic, temperature records tumble in 2019

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

From Europe to the Arctic, temperature records tumble in 2019

Planet is getting hotter at a rate unparalleled in two millennia, and atmospheric CO2 levels are at their highest in 3 million years

The sun rises near power lines in Frankfurt, Germany as a heat wave scorches Europe, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The sun rises near power lines in Frankfurt, Germany as a heat wave scorches Europe, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

AFP — We may only be just over halfway through it, but 2019 has already seen temperature records smashed from Europe to the Arctic circle and could prove to be one of the hottest years ever recorded.

Numerous studies have shown that heatwaves such as the one that baked northern Europe this week are made more likely by climate change, and as man-made greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, 2019 fits a general warming trend.

This June was the hottest on record, beating out June 2016 — so far the hottest year ever.

The record was breached due to an exceptionally strong European heatwave. The continent’s June temperatures were around two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) hotter than average, according to the EU’s Copernicus climate monitor.

People cool down in the fountains of the Trocadero gardens in Paris July 25, 2019, when a new all-time high temperature of 42.6 degrees Celsius (108.7 F) hit the French capital. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)

Temperatures were also notably higher than historic averages in South America, the US atmospheric monitor NOAA said.

Europe has endured two exceptionally strong heatwaves in a matter of weeks.

Record highs tumbled across France, with the mercury peaking at 46 C (114.8 F) on June 28 in the southern town of Verargues. The previous record, set back in 2003, was 44.1 C (111.4 F).

The second wave of heat this week saw Paris’s all-time high pulverized: Meteo-France measured 42.6 C (108.7 F)  in the French capital on Thursday — more than 2 C (3.6 F) hotter than the previous high, set more than 70 years ago.

An elderly woman covers her face from the hot sun with a newspaper, in Milan, Italy, Thursday, July 25, 2019. Parts of Europe will likely see record-high temperatures on Thursday as much of the continent is trapped in a heat wave, the second in two months. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands all also registered all-time high temperatures.

The World Weather Attribution service this month said June’s heatwave was made between 5 and 100 times more likely by man-made climate change.

“Since 2015, we’ve seen extreme heatwaves every year in Europe,” said Robert Vautard, a climatologist at France’s Laboratory of Climate and Environment Sciences.

The first half of 2019 also saw intense heatwaves in Australia, India, Pakistan and parts of the Middle East, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

In mid-July, for the first time on record, thermometers read 21 C (69.8 F) in Alert, a Canadian outpost that is the most northern settlement on Earth, around 900 kilometers from the North Pole.

That beat the previous record set in 1956, but the number of days where temperatures reach 19-20 C (66.2 – 68 F) have shown a marked increase since 2012.

People enjoy the hot summer weather at the river Isar in Munich, Germany, July 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

The last four years are the hottest on record.

Last year was fourth on the list, with an average surface temperature of 1 C  (1.8 F) above pre-industrial levels.

2016 still holds the crown as the hottest year in human history — a full 1.2 C (2.2 F) above average, aided by a powerful El Nino warming event.

According to the NOAA, the period of January-June 2019 was the second hottest ever measured, hotter even than the same period in 2016.

The WMO estimates 2019 will be among the top five hottest years, and that 2015-2019 will be the hottest five year period ever recorded.

Three papers released this week showed that Earth’s temperature was currently warming at a rate and uniformity unparalleled in the past 2,000 years.

Atmospheric CO2 levels are currently around 415 parts per million — the highest concentration in three million years.

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China: France to implement ‘national decisions’ on digital tax despite Trump’s threat

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

France to implement ‘national decisions’ on digital tax despite Trump’s threat

Xinhua

French Minister of the Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, said on Friday that the digital tax on internet giants was “a national decision” that the government would put on the ground, defying US threat of “a substantial reciprocal action.”

“France will implement its national decisions,” French newspaper Le Figaro quoted Le Maire as saying, in response to US President Donald Trump’s warning.

“The taxation of digital activities is a challenge that concerns all of us. We want to reach an agreement on this issue in the framework of the G7 and the OECD,” Le Maire said.

The French Parliament passed a new law to tax digital giants on July 11, making France one of the first countries to tax “GAFA” companies, namely Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

“If anybody taxes them, it should be their home Country, the USA. We will announce a substantial reciprocal action on Macron’s foolishness shortly. I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine,” Trump wrote in his tweet.

The French Digital Services Tax imposes a 3-percent tax on total annual revenues generated by some companies from providing certain digital services to, or aimed at, French users.

The tax applies only to companies with total annual revenues from the covered services of at least 750 million euros (US$834 million) globally and 25 million euros in France.

The tax was initially adopted by France’s National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, on July 4. It is expected to collect 400 million euros this year and 650 million euros by 2022.

Despite a setback in Brussels to reach a European Union-wide taxation, the French government decided to impose the tax at the national level.

In response, the United States Trade Representative announced that it has initiated an investigation against the French law and its impact on US businesses.

The USTR launched the investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, accusing the French government of “unfairly targeting the tax at certain US-based technology companies”. It has been quoting Section 301 in investigating and interfering with foreign countries’ policies.

Section 301 is part of an outdated US trade law adopted in 1974 that allows the US president to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions on foreign countries.

Saudi’s: Denmark Backs European-led Naval Mission to Hormuz Strait

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Denmark Backs European-led Naval Mission to Hormuz Strait

Friday, 26 July, 2019 – 11:15
British frigate HMS Montrose. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Denmark welcomed on Friday a British government proposal for a European-led naval mission to the Strait of Hormuz aimed at ensuring the safety of shipping in the strategic waterway.

“The Danish government looks positively toward a possible contribution to such initiative,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in a statement. “The initiative will have a strong European footprint”.

Britain has sought to assemble the mission in Hormuz, used by tankers carrying about a fifth of the world’s oil, following Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged ship in what London said was an act of “state piracy”.

The initiative won initial support from Denmark, France and Italy, three senior diplomats said on Tuesday.

EU-member Denmark is among the world’s biggest seafaring nations and home to the world’s biggest container shipping firm A.P. Moller-Maersk, which sails in the high-tension area.

“The Royal Danish Navy is strong and capable and would be able to contribute actively and effectively to this type of engagement,” said Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen.

A final decision would still need to be discussed in parliament.

On Thursday, the UK government said it was offering British-flagged ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz a Royal Navy escort.

The Department for Transport said that if ships give advance notice of their plans they will be escorted by frigate HMS Montrose, either individually or in groups.

The escort is not compulsory, and Britain has limited naval resources in the region.

On Friday the Montrose arrived too late to prevent the tanker Stena Impero from being seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested Wednesday that Stena Impero could be released if the UK takes similar steps to hand back an Iranian oil tanker seized by the Royal Navy off Gibraltar earlier this month.

Saudi Arabia Issues Euro-denominated Bonds for 1st Time

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia Issues Euro-denominated Bonds for 1st Time

Tuesday, 2 July, 2019 – 11:30
Saudi Market Tadawul. AFP file photo
Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi Arabia has issued Euro-denominated bonds, its first in that currency, after the Kingdom hired Goldman Sachs and Societe Generale as global coordinators and bookrunners for the potential new deal, while BNP Paribas, Morgan Stanley and Samba Capital were mandated as lead managers and passive bookrunners.

The Saudi issuance of Euro-denominated bonds in tranches of eight and 20 years, depending on market conditions, comes at a time when the country was rated A1 by Moody’s and A + by Fitch Ratings.

Saudi Arabia has begun its approach to global markets by issuing bonds and sukuk in the dollar, and through the Euro-bonds, the country seeks to diversify its investor base, reduce costs and open up new markets, according to experts.

Financial expert Mohammed al-Omran explained that Saudi Arabia announced that it will target international markets and foreign currencies. He added that the euro-bonds will be relatively distant from the dollar-bonds, stressing that the goal is to diversify the currency, reduce cost and establish relations with new markets.

Omran indicated that euro’s current comparative advantage is the lower interest rates, less than 1 percent, while interest on the dollar is about 2 percent, noting that savings will be 1.25 percent per year in euros compared to the dollar.

For his part, economic expert Mohammed Al Abbas indicated that major institutions and banks are racing to enter the Saudi market which is trying to attract international investments and foreign funds, as investors seek confidence in the economy.

He stated that the rush on the Saudi market is an indication on high confidence that large companies and investors have in the Kingdom

He stressed that Saudi Arabia is interested in encouraging foreign investments and entering the European markets through Euro-bonds.

Bonds are low-risk financial instruments and can be disposed at any time, in addition that countries that issue the bonds are obliged to pay them according to the issuance date, according to economic expert Khalaf al-Shammari.

The euro market is characterized by a variety of investors from new institutions and portfolios, which analysts believe Saudi Arabia can take advantage of.

UK Do Yourself A Favor: Throw The Trump Mafia Out Of Your Country Now

UK Do Yourself A Favor: Throw The Trump Mafia Out Of Your Country Now

 

This article to you today is simply an opinion piece about our Coward in Chief visiting your country right now. If you have a different opinion of the man and his family that is fine, people have different opinions about everything that exist, this article is simply my opinion on our Piece of Trash President and his equally crooked family members.

 

The first thing that England did wrong was to allow his plane to land there at all, they should have never even allow him into their air space. I would like to be able to say “the man” but I do not consider him to be a man, just an immature slimy crooked to the core piece of human trash. Before he even landed he called one of the Princesses a fowl name, then he blasted the Mayor of London as a ‘stone cold loser’. Then he lands and he tells the Prime Minister that if he was her he would never pay the $50 billion ‘separation fee’ that it seems the EU is wanting to lay on the British people for the concept of them getting their freedom back from that block. Personally I am not even a little bit surprised that he would condone not paying a bill as this has been this crooks MO since he was a very young person. He has a major habit of having people work for him like outside contractors do, and then stiff them when it is time to pay them. Usually he will use the excuse of he is not happy with their work so he isn’t paying and if they wish they can sue him for it. He knows most all people, especially the ‘little people’ can not afford to do that so they don’t. Pay half up front, then never pay the rest, that is simply the way he operates. One of the funny things I noticed in the news today is how he is upset that he cannot watch Fox News while in the UK as the UK banned them many months ago labeling them as nothing but a ‘Propaganda’ Network. Personally I wish they would also ban Twitter being that Twitter has done nothing but give him a channel to propagate his ignorance to the masses. To me, Twitter and Trump belong together as they both constantly prove that they have no ethics or morals as long as they are making money. Okay, that is the end of my gripe for the day, I figure that probably about half of you got a good laugh as you agreed with me or you’re one of the other half who is pissed off at me because I have a different opinion about him than you do. That is fair, as long as you are being honest with yourself. Happy Monday everyone.

Britain Elections: Tories and Labour punished for Brexit contortions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

European elections 2019: Tories and Labour punished for Brexit contortions

Nigel FarageImage copyright PA

The scrap has started.

Were these results an overwhelming cry for us to leave the EU whatever the cost? Or a sign, with some slightly convoluted arithmetic, that the country now wants another referendum to stop Brexit all together?

Guess what, the situation is not quite so black and white, whatever you will hear in the coming hours about the meaning of these numbers.

The Brexit Party’s success was significant – topping the poll, successfully building on Nigel Farage’s inheritance from UKIP. As a one-issue party, his new group is the biggest single winner.

But the Lib Dems, Greens, Plaid and SNP – all parties advocating the opposite – were victors too.

Those who have been clearly pushing the case for another referendum in order to slam the brakes on Brexit have, this morning, a new confidence, a vigour with which they will keep making their case.

Smashed

While those two sides fight over this election’s true meaning, what is clear is that the two biggest parties have been damaged by their various contortions over Brexit, punished by the fiasco at Westminster, and beaten by rivals who have offered clarity while they have tried to find nuanced ways through.

The Tories’ performance is historically dreadful. This is not just a little embarrassment or hiccup. In these elections the governing party has been completely smashed.

And for the main opposition to have failed to make any mileage out of the Tories’ political distress is poor too – with historic humiliations in Scotland and Wales for Labour as well.

There is immediate pressure, of course, on Labour to argue more clearly for another referendum, to try to back Remain, to shore up that part of their coalition. The dilemmas over doing so still apply even though more and more senior figures in the party are making the case.

Shades of grey

And with the success of The Brexit Party, there is a push for the Tories to be willing to leave the EU without a deal whatever the potentially grave economic costs.

The Tory leadership contest in the wake of these results runs the risk of turning into bragging rights over who can take a harder line on Brexit.

In these elections it seems both of our main Westminster parties have been punished for trying to paint shades of grey when the referendum choice was between black and white. And there is a chance that encourages both of them to give up fighting for the middle.

But that could set our politics on a course where, whatever happens, half of the country will be unhappy. Nothing about these dramatic results sketches out a straightforward route.

England: Prime Minister May And The U.K. In Crisis Over Brexit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TH NEW YORK TIMES)

 

LONDON — The chaos and dysfunction of the British government were on full display on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Theresa May requesting a short delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union after a bitter dispute in her cabinet over her plan for a lengthier extension.

The deadlock in the cabinet underscored the political crisis gripping the government as the deadline for Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc draws ever closer. Even Mrs. May’s spokesman acknowledged as much, saying the prime minister had warned this could happen if her Brexit plan were rejected.

In a letter to European Union leaders, Mrs. May asked for an extension to the Article 50 negotiating process until June 30, raising the prospect that Britain could still suffer a disorderly departure in the summer. Reflecting that possibility, the British pound dropped on the news.

The prospect of any delay to Brexit, as Britain’s departure from the bloc is known, is a broad and humiliating reversal for Mrs. May. It is sure to infuriate many members of her Conservative Party, most of whom support leaving the European Union with no deal if necessary, and to reaffirm the cynicism, rampant among many of the 17.4 million Britons who voted to leave, that the elites in London would never let them have their way.

Her decision was sharply criticized by the opposition Labour Party and by some of her own lawmakers.

“Theresa May is desperate once again to impose a binary choice between her deal and no deal despite Parliament clearly ruling out both of those options last week,” the shadow secretary for Brexit, Keir Starmer, said in a statement. “What the government should be doing is showing real leadership, making good on their commitment to break the deadlock and secure an extension with a genuine purpose.”

Limiting the request to a short delay is the latest in a series of political gyrations from Mrs. May. Last week she said that, if Parliament failed to vote swiftly for her plans — which have been rejected twice — then Britain would face a lengthy delay and have to take part in European elections in May.

It was that prospect that triggered a rebellion from Brexit supporters in her cabinet on Tuesday — and reports of resignation threats — that appear to have prompted another retreat. “As prime minister, I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June,” Mrs. May told lawmakers, prompting some speculation that she might resign if Parliament tried to force a longer extension.

A short delay will keep alive hopes among hard-line Brexit supporters in Parliament, who want to leave without any agreement, and they will be under little pressure now to approve Mrs. May’s deal.

Though the political paralysis over Brexit is in Parliament, the decision on whether to grant the delay lies with the European Union, whose leaders had been expected to agree to some sort of extra time when they gather in Brussels on Thursday. But that could now be in doubt.

Speaking to the German radio station Deutschlandfunk on Wednesday, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said that any decision by the European Union might have to be postponed until the end of next week, after fresh votes in Parliament. That could be on the eve of Britain’s departure, scheduled for March 29.

An extension could come with conditions, and European leaders stressed on Tuesday that they want to see some form of strategy in place to resolve the crisis. They worry that three months is not sufficient for Mrs. May to achieve success, and that she will be back to request another delay in the summer. That would be hard for them to accommodate for legal reasons, because Britain would not have participated in European elections.

Mrs. May faced criticism from all sides in Parliament on Wednesday. Several lawmakers noted that her decision directly contradicts a statement last week by David Lidington, her de facto deputy, who said that, in the absence of a deal, seeking such “a short and, critically, one-off extension would be downright reckless.” To do so, Mr. Lidington had said, would make “a no-deal scenario far more, rather than less, likely.”

But one pro-Brexit Conservative, Peter Bone, argued that if Mrs. May failed to honor her promise to achieve Brexit by March 29, she would be “betraying the British people.”

Since becoming prime minister in 2016, Mrs. May’s overriding objective has been to extricate Britain from the bloc while maintaining the unity of her Conservative Party.

European leaders will consider Mrs. May’s request for a delay in Brexit.CreditMatt Dunham/Associated Press
Image
European leaders will consider Mrs. May’s request for a delay in Brexit.CreditMatt Dunham/Associated Press

By beginning the negotiations in March 2017, she committed herself to an exit by March 29, 2019, within the two years dictated by the bloc’s rules, either with or without an agreement — a promise that critics have pounced on as one of her many misjudgments.

She has largely failed in that mission, and the underlying political problem for Mrs. May remains unresolved. There is no majority in Parliament for any approach other than a “soft” Brexit, with Britain staying in the bloc’s customs union and close to its single market. But that would require cross-party cooperation and would surely rip apart the Tories.

On the other hand, if a hard-liner like the former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, should supplant Mrs. May, that would just as surely prompt widespread resignations and defections among pro-European Conservatives.

Mrs. May is hoping she can still salvage something from the wreckage of her Brexit negotiations by making the delay a short one. Extra time would at least stave off the prospect of a disorderly, economically costly Brexit with no deal next week, which Parliament has made clear it wants to avoid.

Continental economies would be hit too, if not as severely as Britain’s, by a departure without a deal, so European Union leaders are unlikely to rebuff Mrs. May completely. But their patience is being sorely tested.

Mrs. May is likely to try to return to Parliament next week and stage another vote on her deal, even though it has been rejected twice by lawmakers by large margins.

Her plan would give Britain power over immigration from Europe at some point, but would tie the country to the European Union’s customs and trade rules until the end of 2020.

On Monday, the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, said the prime minister could not put her deal to a third vote this week, citing parliamentary rules devised in 1604 to prohibit multiple votes on the same proposition.

Depending on what the talks with the European Union yield, Mrs. May could return with a changed proposition by next week, making it harder for Mr. Bercow to block another effort by Mrs. May to get a vote in Parliament.

If her deal is rejected again by lawmakers, Mrs. May could be forced to change tack, and perhaps allow Parliament to consider other options, like keeping closer economic ties to the European Union.

Mrs. May, nothing if not stubborn, is not giving up on her unpopular blueprint for Brexit. Indeed, she excels at buying more time, and a delay would give her at least a couple of more weeks to resolve the crisis.

Like most everything else with Brexit, the process of requesting and granting an extension is no simple matter, which helps explain why it created such bitter divisions in the cabinet on Tuesday.

For legal reasons, a delay beyond the end of June would be likely to require Britain to participate in elections to the next European Parliament, making a mockery of British plans to leave the bloc.

But as another legal matter, a decision on whether to stage the elections — and effectively to go for a longer delay — must be made during the second week of April. The Brexiteers want to use the upcoming European elections as a sort of backstop, to borrow a phrase, to force Britain to leave, since it would be legally problematic to remain in the bloc without representatives in the European Parliament.

If a long delay would be awkward for Britain, it is not straightforward for the European Union either. It would mean the British enjoy the full rights of membership despite their efforts to leave the club.

In that event, European officials are concerned that Britain might try to use its power to paralyze the bloc’s other business as leverage to extract more concessions on its exit deal.

READ 72 COMMENTS

Top European Rabbi sounds alarm on rise of far right

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Top European rabbi sounds alarm on rise of far right

‘We’re going back to 1914,’ says Pinchas Goldschmidt; laments EU’s instability and that the US ‘replaced the State Department with Twitter’

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, seen writing a new Torah scroll at an event attended by Israeli and European rabbis, marking the Hebrew date of 69 years since the liberation of Jews in Europe, in the Western Wall tunnels, in Jerusalem's Old City, May 21, 2014. (Flash90)

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, seen writing a new Torah scroll at an event attended by Israeli and European rabbis, marking the Hebrew date of 69 years since the liberation of Jews in Europe, in the Western Wall tunnels, in Jerusalem’s Old City, May 21, 2014. (Flash90)

Today’s political climate poses a genuine danger to democracy, according to a leading European rabbi, who warned of a return to “total dictatorships” such as those that existed before World War I.

“We live in a totally new world where there is no control or editing of any kind of information,” said Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis. “The public discourse has become much more shrill and extreme. What has been accepted and understood as being the basis of a liberal democracy yesterday is questioned today.”

In a recent interview with The Times of Israel, the Swiss-born scholar and communal leader also criticized the US administration for “replacing” the State Department with Twitter, said the European Union was “not stable,” and warned the State of Israel against warming up to far-right parties, saying the Jewish state must never place short-term political gains ahead of historical truth.

Speaking about the rise of populist far-right parties across Europe, Goldschmidt indicated that the continent is returning to an age of unbridled nationalism mixed with racism.

“We’re going back to the past; we’re going back to 1914 in Europe. I don’t think we can exclude the turn to total dictatorships, where the situation of Jewish communities is going to become similar to those times when there were no democratic governments,” he said. However, he added that there is one caveat, in that “today you have the State of Israel, you have where to go.”

His fears of Western democracy collapsing are based on recent political and societal developments, he explained.

“The memory of the Holocaust and World War II and World War I is receding. People are living well. People’s attention spans, thanks to the internet, has gone down. Instead of reading books, people read headlines. Instead of getting information, people get opinions and tweets,” he said.

Even the US administration has “replaced the State Department with Twitter,” he lamented, referring to policy decision and diplomatic repartee on the micro-blogging platform.

“I am not painting a black future. I’m saying there are big dangers,” stressed Goldschmidt, who has headed the Conference of European Rabbis since 2011.

“The European Union is not stable; we’re dealing now with Brexit,” he added, noting that many far-right parties on the content advocate leaving the EU and want to “go back to 1914, where it was every country on their own.”

Nationalism in itself is not bad, but it becomes problematic when it is mixed with racism and threatens the foundations of democracy, said the rabbi, who has written several books on religion and politics.

King Felipe VI of Spain (R) shakes hands with CER President Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, at the Royal Palace El Pardo near Madrid, Spain, on December 13, 2016. (World Jewish Congress/File)

The walls that separate between the judiciary, the executive, and the legislative “are being broken down,” and the free press in under attack in today’s Western world, he went on. “All the institutions which give a guarantee to every citizen, and specifically to religious minorities, are in danger.”

Last month, Goldschmidt, who was born in Zurich and has served as the chief rabbi of Moscow since 1993, headed a delegation of the Conference of European Rabbis to Israel, which met with President Reuven Rivlin, Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, and other senior government officials.

In Jerusalem, Goldschmidt announced the appointment of an “ambassador” to coordinate the campaign “against far-right ideologies and extremism.”

This person, who has not yet been named, “will bring together leading politicians and stakeholders from across Europe to make sure that we are equipped to take action against the far-right,” according to Goldschmidt.

Rabbi Goldschmidt, second from left, visits the Knesset as head of a European rabbinical delegation, November 2018. (Eli Itkin/CER)

At their meetings in Israel, the rabbis warned the government against cozying up to such parties, even when they purport to support Israel.

“If a party is intrinsically racist, bigoted against large parts of society and intolerant of minorities, if Jews are not the target now, they will be in the near future,” he said in a press release issued in late November.

“Israel is uniquely placed to put diplomatic pressure on a state and she needs to be careful, take the lead from local communities and analyze a party’s approach and make a long-term decision. It is not worth a short-term endorsement or for Israel to receive political support, only to put the Jewish community at risk.”

Speaking to The Times of Israel in the lobby of his Jerusalem hotel, Goldschmidt also cautioned against establishing contacts with Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, who is not a member of but affiliated with the far-right Freedom Party, or FPOe.

Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl (George Schneider)

“The FPOe was founded by SS officers. Some politicians in Israel are talking about mending relationship with the Diaspora. Supporting them would do just the opposite,” he said.

Goldschmidt was careful not to openly criticize the Israeli government, but he did express understanding for critics of some Israeli decisions, such as a July joint statement Jerusalem issued together with Warsaw about the role of Poles in the Holocaust.

At the time, Yad Vashem slammed the document for containing “highly problematic wording that contradicts existing and accepted historical knowledge in this field.”

He also had some misgiving about Israel seemingly turning a blind eye to distortion of the Holocaust in some Central and Eastern European countries in exchange for diplomatic support.

“It is natural that current political necessities do take precedence over historical rights and wrongs,” Goldschmidt said. “Not all Jews are religious. Many Jews are secular. However, if there is something that is holy to all of us, it is the memory of the Holocaust victims. And that’s something we should not play with.”

Israel derives its strength not only from its thriving start-up scene or its military, the rabbi went on.

“It’s its morality. The morality and historic justice of a persecuted people returning to their homeland after 2,000 years of exile, and I believe that the Israeli government, when formulating foreign policy, should include all historical and moral aspects of Jewish history in order to form a policy which is not only acceptable today, but also for the future.”

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