U.K. government says Brexit deal is “essentially impossible”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

U.K. government says Brexit deal is “essentially impossible”

London — Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office told British journalists Tuesday that reaching a Brexit deal with the European Union ahead of the upcoming October 31 deadline was “essentially impossible.” Johnson’s government was reacting to a call between the him and German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier in the day, during which Merkel reportedly said it was “overwhelmingly unlikely” any deal could be reached based on proposals Johnson sent to the EU last week.

The dire outlook presented by Johnson’s government sparked a war of words with European Council President Donald Tusk, who tweeted directly at the prime minister: “What’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis?” (Quo vadis is Latin for “where are you going.”)

Donald Tusk

@eucopresident

.@BorisJohnson, what’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis?

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The U.K. is set to leave the EU on October 31, but legislation recently passed by Britain’s Parliament requires Prime Minister Johnson to ask Brussels for an extension if the House of Commons doesn’t endorse a deal or consent to a no-deal Brexit by October 19. It’s unclear whether Johnson’s government might be able to find a loophole in that legislation that would enable it to stick to his promise to pull Britain out of the EU, with or without a deal, on the 31st.

There was “skepticism” within EU circles over the U.K.’s description of Johnson’s call with Merkel, CBS News partner network BBC News reported. A spokesman for Merkel’s office declined to comment on confidential conversations.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the U.K. government published a “No-Deal Readiness Report,” outlining preparations it has made in the event the U.K. does leave the EU without an agreement.

Previously leaked government documents laid out the possibility of medicine and food shortages in the U.K. should Britain leave with no deal, as well as potential civil unrest.

The plan published Tuesday detailed what the government has done to try and avoid those worst-case scenarios — many of which had been previously discussed. The “Readiness Report,” for example, notes the government has created a dedicated unit to support suppliers of medical goods in Britain, which could soon need to jump through additional hoops to ensure the integrity of  their supply chains.

“While we remain optimistic, we are also realistic about the need to plan for every eventuality,” the author of the report, Parliamentarian Michael Gove, said in the preface. “If we cannot secure a good agreement with the EU, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.”

What comes next

Parliament is expected to be suspended Tuesday evening until October 14 to give Johnson’s government the chance to set out a new legislative agenda in a “Queen’s Speech.” This comes after the Supreme Court ruled Johnson’s previous request for a suspension of Parliament — or “prorogation” — was illegal, because it shut down debate for what it said was an unreasonable amount of time.

On October 17 and 18, a summit of EU leaders will take place in Brussels ahead of the crucial date of October 19, when Johnson must ask the EU for a Brexit delay if a deal, or a no-deal Brexit, hasn’t been approved by Parliament.

The U.K. is currently set to leave the EU, with or without a Brexit deal, on October 31.

Mike Pence accused of humiliating hosts in Ireland: ‘He shat on the carpet’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS)

 

Mike Pence accused of humiliating hosts in Ireland: ‘He shat on the carpet’

The vice-president’s comments on Brexit while visiting Ireland and his stay at his boss’s golf course did not go down well

Vice-President Mike Pence arrives in Doonbeg to dine with relatives at a seafood restaurant.
 Vice-President Mike Pence arrives in Doonbeg to dine with relatives at a seafood restaurant. Photograph: Jacob King/PA

Missteps during Mike Pence’s visit to Ireland that included controversial praise of the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, have led to accusations of betrayal and “humiliation”.

One Irish Times columnist concluded that the vice-president, a “much-anticipated visitor”, turned out to have “shat on the … carpet”.

Pence’s problems started with his decision to stay for two nights at Donald Trump’s golf resort in Doonbeg, County Clare, more than 140 miles from Dublin, necessitating costly and logistically complex travel. The move quickly drew fire from ethics experts and political rivals.

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, called Trump’s properties a “cesspool of corruption” and accused the president of “prioritizing his profits over the interests of the American people”.

“Pence is just the latest Republican elected official to enable President Trump’s violations of the constitution,” she said.

A spokesman for the vice-president said the decision was partly based on the president’s suggestion Pence stay there, and partly on secret service concerns about costs and logistics. Questioned about the decision on Wednesday, Trump claimed he had “no involvement, other than it’s a great place”.

But that was only the start of the controversy.

The Irish Times columnist Miriam Lord responded to a tense meeting between the vice-president and the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in which Pence urged the republic to protect the “United Kingdom’s sovereignty”. That Varadkar is gay and Pence a past champion of anti-LGBTQ legislation in Indiana also caused widespread comment.

Pence laid on platitudes about being “deeply humbled” and “honored” to be visiting Doonbeg, the home of his mother’s grandmother. But in Dublin he offered his hosts a clear lesson in his administration’s political priorities.

“Let me be clear: the US supports the UK decision to leave the EU in Brexit,” Pence told Varadkar in a prepared statement. “But we also recognise the unique challenges on your northern border. And I can assure you we will continue to encourage the United Kingdom and Ireland to ensure that any Brexit respects the Good Friday agreement.”

Among media responses, Irish Central asked: “Did VP Pence betray Ireland in his Brexit comments during Irish trip?”

The Irish Examiner accused Pence of trying to “humiliate” the republic.

But Lord struck the most telling blow.

She described the impact of the Pence visit on Ireland as “like pulling out all the stops for a much-anticipated visitor to your home and thinking it has been a great success until somebody discovers he shat on the new carpet in the spare room, the one you bought specially for him”.

“As Pence read from the autocue and Irish eyes definitely stopped smiling,” she added, “it was clear he was channeling His Master’s Voice. Trump is a fan of Brexit and of Boris.”

“Pence,” Lord continued, “is Irish American and wastes no opportunity to go misty-eyed about his love for the ‘Old Country’ as he lards on his Mother Machree schtick on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Lord wasn’t alone in her criticism. The Cork Examiner’s political editor, Daniel McConnell, wrote: “The cheek of him coming here, eating our food, clogging up our roads and then having the nerve to humiliate his hosts.”

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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.

British lawmakers take control: What it means for Boris, Brexit and Britain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

 

BRITAIN

British lawmakers take control: What it means for Boris, Brexit and Britain

The House of Commons took the unprecedented step of usurping government control of Parliament — a dramatic move that raises more questions than it answers.

Updated 

The United Kingdom’s House of Commons has usurped government control of Parliament.

It’s an unprecedented step — achieved with a dramatic vote Tuesday night — that could have far-reaching ramifications for the country’s future.

The immediate goal is to stop British Prime Minister Boris Johnson from taking the country out of the European Union at the end of October without a formal deal to manage that departure — something he has repeatedly threatened to do. But the effects of the thunderous vote could be heard for years to come.

So where does Tuesday’s vote leave Boris Johnson, Brexit and Britain?

BORIS

The vote means the embattled British prime minister could become the shortest-serving tenant of No. 10 Downing Street since the office was created in 1721. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who famously defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, served 23 days as a caretaker prime minister in 1834.

Traditionally, when a British prime ministers lose their ability to win votes in Parliament, they are ejected via a vote of no confidence — or they call for an early election to decide their fate.

Johnson’s preference is for an election on Oct. 14, hoping that his Conservative Party will gain seats in the House of Commons and give him more backing for his preferred approach to Brexit.

Calling an election would be a big risk, though. It would essentially amount to a second referendum on Brexit in all but name and serve as a first referendum on Johnson. The previous prime minister, Theresa May, called an early election in 2017, only to have it misfire, leaving her with a wafer-thin majority.

While Conservatives top national opinion polls, that support is stuck in the low 30 percent range and they face surging opponents on both their left — Liberal Democrats — and right — Brexit Party — in addition to their traditional rivals, the left-wing Labour Party.

And to even get an election called, Johnson would need support from the opposition Labor Party. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn has flip-flopped on whether he would support such a move. After insisting for months on calling an early general election, he backtracked Tuesday. His new condition: no-deal Brexit must be off the table before he agrees to an election.

Parliament could also attempt to remove Johnson without turning to the voters — via a vote of no confidence. But because Johnson succeeded in getting the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks starting on Sept. 9, there’s likely no time for Johnson’s Parliamentary opponents to pull off that maneuver.

Who could replace Johnson?

If there’s no election, but Johnson goes down via a no-confidence vote or resigns, a front-runner to lead a temporary administration to handle Brexit would be Kenneth Clarke. A former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, Clarke is a moderate Conservative who supports EU membership but has three times voted for softer forms of Brexit out of respect for the 2016 referendum result.

If the Conservatives lose any election, the most likely new prime minister would be Corbyn. Corbyn would either run a minority government or unite with other pro-EU parties such as, the Liberal Democrats, to lead a coalition government.

BREXIT

Will Brexit be delayed? That depends on whether there’s an election and how far Johnson is willing to push constitutional norms. With no written constitution, Britain is on shaky ground here.

Johnson has said Britain is leaving the EU on Oct. 31, regardless of what Parliament says. If he sticks to that line of defying Parliament and avoids an October election, the Queen is likely the only person who could stop Johnson. While “The Queen versus Boris Johnson” might be a dream story line for scriptwriters at “The Crown,” it’s a far-fetched scenario, given it would represent the most direct political play by a British monarch in nearly 200 years.

In an October election, the three choices for voters would be: back Johnson’s Brexit-by-any-means policy, elect a Labour-led government that would pursue a managed Brexit, and enter the uncharted territory of a minority government led by a pro-EU party such as the third-placed Liberal Democrats.

Can Brexit be stopped? Probably not.

Opinion polls show the country to be as divided as it was in 2016 on Brexit. The opposition leader, Corbyn, has committed to deliver Brexit since the referendum. Meanwhile, the nationalist Brexit Party has at times risen to the top of national polls in recent months. In addition: most leading Conservatives are committed to Brexit, though many want it to be softened and managed in cooperation with the EU.

Does that mean Britain is headed for a managed Brexit? That is a message Parliament has regularly sent to Downing Street and is the preference of EU officials. That’s why May’s government and the EU spent two years working toward the deal agreed in December.

But to get there, the EU may have to smooth the edges of the existing deal — something it has so far refused to do.

What does the EU think?

The EU looks on with sadness and fear in equal measure and will not alter the core elements of the existing deal. The bloc prizes maintaining the integrity of its single-market system over all else and has been keen to make an example out of Britain’s choice to leave — so other EU members aren’t tempted to follow.

Given those fundamentals, the EU has shifted to treating a no-deal Brexit as its default expectation.

Officials in Brussels on Wednesday will propose two budget instruments to support the companies and workers who would be most affected by a no-deal Brexit. The EU’s goal: prevent the U.K. tearing a hole in its single market.

In contrast, Michael Gove, Britain’s minister in charge of preparing for Brexit, refuses to publish his own governments’ planning scenarios — known as Operation Yellowhammer. The presumed reason, based on leaked versions of the plans, is that they paint a devastating picture of the effects of a no-deal Brexit.

BRITAIN

The long-term effects of this week’s debate could be significant. It’s now clear Johnson will be unable to unite his country, even if he can hang on and find a way to deliver Brexit.

Johnson’s government now has a choice between fomenting a constitutional crisis — if the government ignores Parliament — or managing a policy crisis — given Parliament is on track to overturn the government’s key policy in a second critical vote Wednesday.

The political and cultural divisions run deep across Britain.

Moderate Labour MP Liz Kendall tweeted Tuesday that she had “never seen such cold hard anger” among her Parliament colleagues as she did watching Conservative moderates react in fury as hard-line Brexiteer Jacob-Rees Mogg addressed Parliament.

The politically neutral Queen is also getting uncomfortably close to the action: Last week, she was roped into suspending Parliament for five weeks via a secretive constitutional forum known as the Privy Council, convened at her summer castle in Balmoral, Scotland.

While protesters have reached for extreme daily slogans like “Stop the coup,” there are plenty of other sharp realities at hand that require no exaggeration.

The Scottish government, which has similar powers to the state government in the United States, is pushing for a referendum on leaving the U.K. London, a bastion of pro-EU support, is splintering further from the rest of the country. And the inability to avoid recreating a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is threatening to destabilize a peace agreement reached more than 20 years ago.

In other words, the longest-term effect of Brexit could be the breakup of the United Kingdom.

England: Boris Johnson’s intention is clear: he wants a ‘people v parliament’ election

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LONDON GUARDIAN)

 

Boris Johnson’s intention is clear: he wants a ‘people v parliament’ election

The plan to prorogue parliament is a nakedly populist move that Johnson hopes will lead to a parliamentary majority

 Boris Johnson confirms plan to suspend UK parliament – video

Boris Johnson’s plan to prorogue parliament ahead of a Queen’s speech on 14 October is intended to provoke parliamentarians into blocking a no-deal Brexit, or triggering a general election through a vote of no confidence. Both are feasible in the time available.

The last time parliament stepped in to block no deal earlier in the year, the necessary legislation was passed in just three days. Johnson has deliberately left enough time for parliament to seize control again. That’s because Johnson’s real objective is to use Brexit to win a general election, rather than use a general election to secure Brexit. By forcing the hands of his opponents, he has defined the terrain for a “people versus parliament” election. Expect him to run on “Back Boris, Take Back Britain”. He will say that the only way to definitely leave on 31 October is to give him a parliamentary majority to do so. The man of Eton, Oxford and the Telegraph will position himself as the leader of the people against the hated establishment and “remainder elite”.

Johnson’s electoral strategy is simple: unite the Brexit-supporting right of politics behind him while remainders are fractured across Labor, the SNP, Liberal Democrats and Greens. Since the day he took office, Johnson has been acting to consolidate the votes of leave supporters behind him. From Brexit party supporters to leave-backing Labor voters, Johnson has sought to create a winning electoral coalition.

The Tories have spent recent weeks closing off predicted Labor attack lines. Sajid Javid has announced a one-year spending review will take place on 4 September. After nearly a decade of relentless reductions in spending, the public have plainly tired of austerity. Waiting times in the NHS are longer; class sizes are larger; and the police are no longer able to keep up with rising crime or keep many communities safe. Johnson’s government has already promised more spending in each of these areas.

Sajid Javid
Pinterest
 ‘The Tories have spent recent weeks closing off predicted Labor attack lines. Sajid Javid has announced a one-year spending review will take place on 4 September.’ Photograph: Matt Dunham/PA

But these are very Tory announcements, with an added right-wing edge. So the leaked proposal to invest in schools is to be accompanied by proposals to allow teachers to use “reasonable force” against pupils, and the additional resources for the police include proposals to allow all officers to carry Tasers. There is no serious public policy discussion about precisely how much force grown adults should use against children, just as the problem with knife crime is not the police’s ability to pacify knife-wielding youths with Tasers. These plans are red meat for the Tory base, designed to distract from rather than solve the problems our society faces.

The political logic is obvious. In 2017, Theresa May lost the slim Tory majority she inherited from her predecessor in an election campaign that turned away from Brexit and towards the state of the country at home. Labor’s clear anti-austerity message resonated across the Brexit divide and paid electoral dividends for the party. Johnson is aiming to prevent such a turn taking place this time.

Yet the public will be skeptical that the same people who needlessly degraded public services are now prepared to invest in them. While Johnson is unconstrained by principle or the shackles of ideology, he leads a cabinet of the hard right of the Conservative party. For those who have dedicated a lifetime to hacking back the state and severing Britain’s ties with the European Union, it seems unlikely that they are on board with a project of investment in public services. But they are certainly committed to a no-deal exit that is an Atlanticist project rather than a unilateral one – and to the aggressive tax cuts that Johnson has promised. This is a government that intends to realign Britain to the US and is set to govern just like US Republicans – cut taxes first, then maintain spending to blow up the deficit before using that to justify far deeper spending cuts.

So why would the public believe what Johnson says? The real secret of populists, from Donald Trump to Matteo Salvini to Johnson, is the conflation of transgression with truthfulness. The willingness to engage in bigotry and violate hard-won social norms against racist, homophobic or misogynistic language convinces people that these politicians “speak their mind” and “say what they think”. Paradoxically, their lack of virtue confirms their veracity.

Their bigotry is the result of calculation rather than miscalculation – and the predictable howls of outrage from critics only serves to amplify the message. The upcoming election will turn on whether Johnson is found out for what he is: Trump with a thesaurus, whose real agenda of a Brexit for the elite is disguised behind the thin veneer of a few spending announcements that come after a desperate decade of the degradation of Britain at home and abroad.

 Tom Kibasi is director of the Institute for Public Policy Research. He writes in a personal capacity

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Israel: Priti Patel previously ousted over Israeli meetings named new UK Home Secretary

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Priti Patel, previously ousted over Israel meetings, named UK home secretary

Dominic Raab to serve as new foreign secretary, Sajid Javid appointed chancellor of the exchequer, as Boris Johnson clears house on his first day as prime minister

Conservative lawmaker Priti Patel arrives at 10 Downing Street, London, July 24, 2019 (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Conservative lawmaker Priti Patel arrives at 10 Downing Street, London, July 24, 2019 (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Priti Patel, who resigned as UK aid minister in 2017 over unauthorized meetings with senior Israeli officials, was named as home secretary by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday.

Patel quit in November 2017 after it emerged that she held a series of meeting with Israeli leaders — including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — about allocating aid to the Israeli army’s Syrian relief efforts, without properly informing the government.

Patel had apologized for holding 12 separate meetings during a family holiday to Israel in August of that year without notifying the Foreign Office or Downing Street in advance.

The Jewish Chronicle reported at the time that Patel had informed 10 Downing Street of the meetings and had been advised to keep a sit-down with Israeli Foreign Ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York off the list of meetings she disclosed to save face for the Foreign Office. Downing Street denied the claims as “categorically untrue.”

Conservative lawmaker Dominic Raab arrives at 10 Downing Street, London, July 24, 2019 (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Dominic Raab, who was named by Johnson on Wednesday as the UK’s new foreign secretary — the country’s top diplomat — resigned as Brexit minister in Theresa May’s government last year, saying the divorce deal she struck with Brussels offered too many compromises.

A 45-year-old graduate of both Oxford and Cambridge and the son of a Jewish Czech father who fled the Nazis, Raab reportedly spent the summer of 1998 at a university near Ramallah and became involved early on in the Arab-Israeli conflict, working with a former Palestinian negotiator of the Oslo peace process in the West Bank.

Raab went viral on social media for admitting at a conference that he “hadn’t quite understood” the importance of the cross-Channel port in Dover to the UK economy. Dover handled 17 percent of Britain’s entire international trade last year, a figure that threatens to plummet under a no-deal Brexit scenario Raab had said he does not much fear. Making matters worse, Raab appeared to suggest that he had only recently discovered this “peculiar geographic economic entity” of his country.

Raab is replacing Jeremy Hunt, Johnson’s rival in the leadership race, who said he had “kindly” been offered a different cabinet role, Sky News reported, but decided to serve on the backbenches, from where the prime minister “will have my full support.”

Sajid Javid was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, responsible for spending and economic policy, vacating the home secretary role for Patel.

Javid made a three-day trip to Israel and the West Bank earlier this month, including a rare visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall and Temple Mount.

The minister, who comes from a Muslim family, donned a traditional Jewish skullcap as he toured the Western Wall holy site and placed a note between the stones of the ancient retaining wall.

Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid, center, visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem, July 1, 2019. (Courtesy The Western Wall Heritage Foundations)

He recalled that his father believed deeply in Jewish-Muslim coexistence. “We love Jewish heritage very much and appreciate it,” the then-home secretary said during the private visit.

Javid also visited and prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, and the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

During his time as home secretary, Javid proscribed Hezbollah’s political wing as a terrorist organization, and slammed Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for photos of him holding a wreath during a 2014 visit to the graves of Palestinian terrorists.

Johnson fired several members of May’s cabinet on Wednesday, but Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is keeping his job in the government shakeup.

Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks outside 10 Downing Street, London, July 24, 2019 (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Michael Gove, who ran the 2016 campaign to leave the EU alongside Johnson before the pair fell out, was named Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a powerful cabinet post with no specific portfolio.

Ben Wallace, a former security minister, was appointed defense secretary.

May’s secretaries in defense, business, education, transport, local government and international trade have all announced they are leaving government. That came hours after Treasury chief Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and May’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, resigned.

Some of those leaving had said they would rather go than serve under Johnson, who wants to leave the European Union even if no Brexit agreement is in place to ease the transition.

Johnson insists the country will leave the EU by Oct. 31 — “do or die.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

READ MORE:

UK: Boris Johnson forms his new Cabinet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LONDON TELEGRAPH NEWS)

 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Front Page AM 

Good morning. As Boris Johnson prepares to be appointed prime minister today, Danny Boyle has The Telegraph‘s latest essential briefing
Johnson clears out Remainers for Cabinet with Brexit majority
Boris Johnson is preparing to enter Downing Street for the first time as prime minister. But even before his summons to Buckingham Palace to form a government, the new Conservative leader has begun to shape his top team. As Political Editor Gordon Rayner reports, Mr Johnson will begin assembling a majority Brexiteer Cabinet as he clears out Remainers to end “self-doubt” and get Britain ready for leaving the EU on Oct 31. These are the names already in the frame for the most ethnically diverse Cabinet in history. After Mr Johnson’s resounding victory, Camilla Tominey has the inside story on how he beat Jeremy Hunt. Theresa May holds her final PMQs today before leaving Number 10. Mr Johnson is then set to address the nation after being officially appointed by the Queen. Here is our hour-by-hour guide. And what about his girlfriend Carrie Symonds? These are the plans for her involvement in the historic day.

Europe gave Mr Johnson a lukewarm welcome yesterday. Here is how the world has reacted to his appointment – and what Telegraph readers think of the new Tory leader. A special edition of Chopper’s Brexit Podcast has been released this morning – listen to an interview with the man who knows Mr Johnson best.

Three meetings with Trump in crucial first 100 days of power
He has referred to him as “Britain’s Trump”. Boris Johnson is poised to meet the US president three times before the UK leaves the European Union in exactly 100 days’ time. Camilla Tominey and Gordon Rayner explain how the visits are intended to strengthen the special relationship. And US Editor Ben Riley-Smith examines which doors Mr Johnson’s charisma will open in Washington.
Theresa May leaves Number 10 with a trimmed-down legacy
How will history judge Theresa May’s period in Downing Street? She has sent a letter to Conservative MPs listing her achievements since announcing her resignation, as she attempts to salvage a legacy from her troubled premiership. But Harry Yorke reports that it was more notable for its omissions. As Mrs May leaves office, Senior Fashion Editor Caroline Leaper says farewell to her power dressing with this analysis of her nine most memorable signature styles.

UK Ambassador to the US calls Trump Inept, Insecure and Incompetent

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Diplomatic cables sent from the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States back to London describe President Donald Trump as “inept,” “insecure” and “incompetent,” a UK government official confirmed Saturday to CNN.

The leak could cause serious diplomatic damage between the two “special relationship” allies.
While foreign envoys of all nations are often candid in classified dispatches back home, there are periodic episodes when such assessments leak, causing great political embarrassment. Months of efforts by the ambassador, Kim Darroch and his diplomats to build ties and trust with Trump and his political acolytes will be undermined.
The cables were leaked to and first published by the Daily Mail.
Darroch used secret cables and briefing notes to warn the UK government that Trump’s “career could end in disgrace,” and described conflicts within the White House as “knife fights,” according to the Daily Mail.
A UK government source told CNN the memos described in the Daily Mail story are genuine.
The Daily Mail says the memos span the period between 2017 to present day, covering everything from Trump’s foreign policy to his 2020 reelection plans.
In one memo dated June 22, according to the Daily Mail, Darroch questioned Trump’s claim that he pulled back from retaliating against Iran last month after the downing of a US drone because the President was told at the last minute that US air strikes could kill 150 Iranians.
He also said in a cable to the Foreign Commonwealth Office that while he believed Trump can’t afford to lose much support, he thinks there’s still a “credible path” for his reelection.
The White House told CNN it had no comment on the story.
The leaked cables come at a sensitive time in UK politics with Conservative Party members currently electing a new prime minister to succeed Theresa May, who was effectively toppled by her own members of Parliament for failing to deliver on her country’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union.
“The British public would expect our Ambassadors to provide Ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country. Their views are not necessarily the views of Ministers or indeed the government. But we pay them to be candid. Just as the US Ambassador here will send back his reading of Westminster politics and personalities,” a statement from the British FCO said.
“Of course we would expect such advice to be handled by Ministers and civil servants in the right way and it’s important that our Ambassadors can offer their advice and for it remain confidential. Our team in Washington have strong relations with the White House and no doubt that these will withstand such mischievous behaviour,” the statement continued.
The favorite for the job, Boris Johnson, is seen as likely to seek to forge a much closer relationship to Trump than May, who made strenuous efforts to court the President and developed a respectful relationship but never really bonded with him politically. If it leaves the EU, Britain will be seeking to seal a bilateral trade deal with the US and Trump is expected to drive a hard bargain. So there will be speculation that the leak of Darroch’s memos was a politically motivated act by someone in London to clear space in Washington for an outspokenly pro-Brexit ambassador.
Darroch also used to work as national security adviser to former British Prime Minister David Cameron and as a top UK representative to the EU, so although he’s a career diplomat, he is not seen as philosophically aligned with the crowd of hardcore Brexiteers expected to take over 10 Downing Street.
Johnson is unpredictable, politically incorrect, a populist and deeply critical of the EU and is often accused of blurring facts — traits which he shares with Trump.
There is so far no reaction from the President’s Twitter feed.
But Trump has never felt constrained from criticizing the British government.
Several times, he has embarrassed May after criticizing her handling of Brexit negotiations. He plunged into Britain’s internal affairs in June by openly rooting for various Conservative candidates in the leadership elections. And he has waged a long-running feud with London’s mayor Sadiq Khan.
Trump also raised some eyebrows in the UK by repeatedly praising Nigel Farage, one of the most prominent campaigners for Brexit.
Trump has in the past suggested Farage, whom he called “a friend of mine,” should become the UK ambassador to the US. That idea was quickly ruled out by Downing Street.
Farage rushed to Trump’s defense on Sunday, tweeting: “Kim Darroch is totally unsuitable for the job and the sooner he is gone the better.”
Darroch had been riding high on the success of Trump’s trip to the UK in June which largely went off without a hitch. His position with the Trump administration however now looks difficult at best. Though his memos are deeply sensitive given the source, the unflattering depiction of the Trump White House is one that will be recognizable to readers of US media outlets.
This story has been updated with additional developments and context.

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.

Theresa May, Britain’s Prime Minister, Resigns: Live Updates

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Theresa May, Britain’s Prime Minister, Resigns: Live Updates

Mrs. May announced Friday morning that she would be stepping down, after repeatedly failing to win Parliament’s approval for a deal to withdraw Britain from the European Union.

RIGHT NOW

A successor to Theresa May will be chosen before Parliament’s summer break, the Conservative Party chairman said. She will continue as prime minister until the leadership contest is finished.

Prime Minister Theresa May outside 10 Downing Street in London on Friday. Her premiership has been beset by crises. Credit Simon Dawson/Reuters

Facing a cabinet rebellion, Theresa May announced on Friday morning her decision to leave office. She spoke briefly after meeting with Graham Brady, a powerful leader of backbench Conservative lawmakers.

Standing in front of 10 Downing Street, Mrs. May said it was in the “best interests of the country for a new prime minister” to lead Britain through the Brexit process. She announced plans to step down as the leader of the Conservative Party on June 7, with the process to replace her beginning the following week.

“I feel as certain today as I did three years ago that in a democracy, if you give people a choice you have a duty to implement what they decide. I have done my best to do that,” she added. “I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal. Sadly, I have not been able to do so.”

Mrs. May’s voice cracked as she said she was honored to serve the country as the “second female prime minister, but certainly not the last,” and said the role had been the honor of her life.

Conservative lawmakers have been deeply frustrated by Mrs. May’s failure to deliver on Brexit, which became the government’s central — some would say its sole — preoccupation after the country voted to leave the union in a 2016 referendum.

But the breaking point has come at an awkward moment, with President Trump scheduled to arrive in Britain on June 3 for a state visit and to take part in events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings that preceded the end of World War II.

Mrs. May’s authority was profoundly undermined in 2017, when she unexpectedly called a general election, then conducted a poor campaign and lost the majority in Parliament that she had inherited from her predecessor, David Cameron. The Conservatives remained in power with the support of a small Northern Ireland party.

Deep divisions in her Cabinet over the approach to Brexit weakened her at home. By contrast, the European Union remained remarkably unified in its negotiating strategy, and it remains doubtful that another British leader will get a deal any more palatable than the one Mrs. May agreed to.

Her ability to soak up political punishment and plow on regardless won her admiration, even from some of her many critics. But the pressure on her increased after disastrous local election results this month, when the Conservatives lost more than 1,300 seats in municipalities around the country and voters vented their frustration over the Brexit infighting and deadlock.

Then, the government announced that Britain would, after all, take part in elections to the European Parliament this week — another symbol of Mrs. May’s failure to achieve a withdrawal. Britons voted on Thursday, but the results will be announced on Sunday, after all the European Union countries have gone to the polls. They are expected to be catastrophic for the Conservatives.

Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary who would like to take Mrs. May’s place, described her statement as “dignified.” Credit Simon Dawson/Reuters

It has been a long time since so many prominent political figures had nice things to say about Mrs. May.

Compliments poured in from opposition lawmakers who have tried to oust her, and from fellow Conservatives who have undermined her and hope to take her place. Some were backhanded, some barbed, and still others gave no hint of the history of animosity behind them.

“Thank you for your stoical service to our country and the Conservative Party,” tweeted Boris Johnson, who quit Mrs. May’s cabinet over Brexit and who has never concealed his ambition to be prime minister.

Boris Johnson

@BorisJohnson

A very dignified statement from @theresa_may. Thank you for your stoical service to our country and the Conservative Party. It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit.

3,911 people are talking about this

Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party, retweeted Mr. Johnson with the comment, “What a hypocrite.”

Two other Conservatives who quit Mrs. May’s cabinet over Brexit and would like to take her place, Dominic Raab and Andrea Leadsom, described her statement as “dignified.”

“An illustration of her total commitment to country and duty,” Ms. Leadsom tweetedMr. Raab wrote, “She remains a dedicated public servant, patriot and loyal Conservative.”

The statement from Tom Watson, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, was no bouquet of roses, saying that Mrs. May “had an unenviably difficult job, and she did it badly,” and scolding “those who have plotted her downfall to further their own ambitions. But even he added, “she tried to do what was right for our country,” and “she was honorable in her intentions.”

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, dispensed with any pretense of a tribute. “She’s now accepted what the country’s known for months: She can’t govern, and nor can her divided and disintegrating party.”

Boris Johnson, the hard-line Brexit supporter and former foreign secretary, is one of the candidates to replace Mrs. May.Credit Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Mrs. May’s departure could set off a ferocious succession contest within her governing Conservative Party, though lawmakers have been positioning themselves for this eventuality for months as her authority steadily weakened and several of her cabinet ministers stepped down.

Several prominent Conservatives are already campaigning actively to succeed her as party leader and prime minister. Candidates for party leadership have to be nominated by two other members of Parliament, though if there is only one candidate, he or she automatically becomes the new leader. If more than two candidates emerge, lawmakers vote among themselves to narrow the field and then put two candidates to a vote by all Conservative Party members, who number approximately 120,000.

Most analysts expect a new leader to be in place by the end of July. Hard-line Brexit supporters will be determined to replace Mrs. May with someone from their ranks, with the former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson; the former Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab; and Andrea Leadsom, who left her cabinet post as leader of the House of Commons on Wednesday, seen as likely contenders.

But less ideological figures are likely to put themselves forward, too, including Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, and Sajid Javid, the home secretary.

A pro-Brexit rally near Parliament in London in June 2016, before the referendum. Credit Adam Ferguson for The New York Times

David Cameron, the prime minister who called the 2016 referendum and campaigned to remain in the bloc, resigned the day after the vote. Mrs. May had also argued for remaining, but after emerging victorious from a brief but chaotic leadership contest, she appointed a cabinet with several leading Brexit campaigners and set out an agenda that implied a comprehensive break with the bloc.

She then gave herself a two-year legal deadline to complete withdrawal negotiations, only to have to postpone Britain’s exit twice after failing to persuade Parliament to accept the terms she had negotiated, painstakingly, with the European Union.

Time and time again, Mrs. May survived challenges to her leadership, escaping a seemingly inevitable end to her tenure as her Brexit plans repeatedly floundered. But the final push toward Mrs. May’s ouster came this week after she rolled out the latest iteration of a Brexit deal that lawmakers had thrice rejected by large margins.

Her hopes of trying once more to push her deal through Parliament were dashed after changes she unveiled on Tuesday, which opened the door to a second referendum on Brexit, were rejected by Brexiteers as a betrayal and by Remainers as simply not enough. Mrs. May had framed the changes as “one last chance” to deliver on the 2016 vote to leave the European Union.

Plans to publish her new plan on Friday were quickly shelved when it became clear they managed to alienate pro- and anti-Brexit factions alike. But Mrs. May has really been on her way out since her third failed attempt to get the plan approved — on the very day in March that Britain was initially scheduled to leave the European Union. She had offered to step aside if lawmakers voted for her proposal.

Ellen Barry and Benjamin Mueller contributed reporting from London.

Stephen Castle is London correspondent, writing widely about Britain, including the country’s politics and relationship with Europe. @_StephenCastle  Facebook

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