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.

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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.

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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

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.

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Indians get more UK visas as European Union citizens exit over Brexit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Indians get more UK visas as European Union citizens exit over Brexit

Indians were granted the highest number of visitor visas during the year ending September 2018: up 41,224 (or 10%) to 4,68,923; Chinese and Indian nationals alone accounted for just under half (47%) of all visit visas granted.

WORLD Updated: Nov 29, 2018 22:07 IST

Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Indian,UK visa,European Union
New figures released on Thursday show a rise in the number of visas granted to Indian professionals, visitors, students and family members, but also reflect the Brexit reality of more EU citizens leaving the United Kingdom.(File Photo)

New figures released on Thursday show a rise in the number of visas granted to Indian professionals, visitors, students and family members, but also reflect the Brexit reality of more EU citizens leaving the United Kingdom.

Indians were granted the highest number of visitor visas during the year ending September 2018: up 41,224 (or 10%) to 4,68,923; Chinese and Indian nationals alone accounted for just under half (47%) of all visit visas granted.

The demand for Indian professionals continued during the year, with 55 per cent of all Tier 2 (skilled) visas granted to them, the figures released by the Office for National Statistics show.

The number of Indian students coming to study at UK universities also showed a 33 per cent rise, to 18,735. Chinese and Indian students accounted for almost half of all students visas granted during the year.

There was also an increase in the family-related visas for Indians (up 881 to 3,574). The number of EEA family permits given to Indians (members of families of EU citizens) was also up 4,245 to 8,360, official sources said.

Figures showing more EU citizens leaving than arriving in the UK prompted renewed concern over the impact of Brexit. The net migration from the EU to the UK slumped to a six-year low, while non-EU migration is the highest in more than a decade.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “EU migrants have been leaving in larger numbers since the referendum, and net inflows have greatly decreased”.

“The lower value of the pound is likely to have made the UK a less attractive place to live and work and economic conditions in several of the top countries of origin for EU migrants have improved”.

First Published: Nov 29, 2018 18:27 IST

Brexit bill becomes law, allowing UK to leave European Union

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Brexit bill becomes law, allowing UK to leave European Union

The EU (Withdrawal) Bill repeals the 1972 European Communities Act through which Britain became a member, and transfers decades of European law onto British statute books in a bid to avoid any legal disruption.

WORLD Updated: Jun 26, 2018 17:33 IST

Reuters
Reuters
London
European Union supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participate in the People's Vote march in central London, Britain, on June 23.
European Union supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participate in the People’s Vote march in central London, Britain, on June 23. (Reuters file photo)

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth granted royal assent to Prime Minister Theresa May’s flagship Brexit legislation on Tuesday, ending months of debate over the legislation that will formally end the country’s European Union membership.

The House of Commons speaker John Bercow said the EU withdrawal bill, passed by both houses of parliament last week, had been signed into law by the monarch, to cheers from Conservative lawmakers.

“I have to notify the House in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967 that her Majesty has signified her royal assent to the following acts … European Union Withdrawal Act 2018,” Commons Speaker John Bercow told lawmakers during a session of the house.

A Romanian in the UK: ‘Undesirable Migrant’ Or ‘Welcomed Contributor’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

A Romanian in the UK: On the Thin Line Between ‘Undesirable Migrant’ and ‘Welcomed Contributor’

Alexandra Bulat, photo from her official page at UCL, used with her permission.

What is the human side of the Brexit, the UK ‘divorce’ from the EU? Numerous controversies remain, as well as the need to fix the system in order to avoid further suffering for millions of people caught in a bureaucratic uncertainty or facing arbitrary and unjust rules and regulations.

According to the newspaper The Sun, around 3.6 million EU nationals currently live in the UK, including nearly 600,000 children. Among them, eastern Europeans have been specially branded by Leavers (those who support UK’s separation from Europe) as “unwanted” immigrants. They often are tagged as “benefit scroungers, here to steal jobs”. This sentiment is not new, as they already felt like second-class citizens because of working restrictions initially put on migrants from central and eastern Europe when they joined the EU. Arguably, UK’s decision to open its labor market to these countries is what led the voters to become so opposed to migration from the EU.

Photographer Deividas Buivydas shared some captivating images from Boston, Lincolnshire, where tension against eastern Europeans is evident and post-Brexit anxiety is bubbling. This town registered the highest Leave vote in Britain, at 75.6 per cent and was dubbed “the capital of Brexit”. It also is home of the largest proportion of Eastern Europeans in the country.

The life story of Alexandra Bulat, a young scholar from Romania who made a career at top UK academic institutions also offers a telling example, as she referred to a famous phrase by UK Prime Minister Theresa May, uttered in January 2017:

I am a Romanian PhD student, teaching assistant & researcher. One of @theresa_may‘s praised “brightest and the best” whose “contributions are welcome”.

This I want to share my story. Until I got to this point, I was in many ways an “undesirable migrant” ⬇️

Ms. Bulat shared her story in a series of much-retweeted tweets which are summarized bellow.

My first experience in the UK was in 1997. My father got a temporary [National Health Service] contract as there was a skill shortage. I attended the hospital’s nursery for 7 months but my family chose to return to Romania. My mum was unemployed and my father had limited rights to work.

Meanwhile my parents got divorced. I attended a free school and skipped many classes in the last college years. Grew up mainly with “working class kids” sometimes doing dangerous things. But I achieved the highest grade in the Romanian Baccalaureate and this opened many doors.

I returned to the UK at 18 to study. I passed an IELTS exam but this was not enough to understand even half of what my British colleagues were saying. Should I have been “sent back” then as I could not properly engage in English conversations in my first few months?

Three years later I graduated with a first class degree from . It was a fun but difficult time. My mum came looking for work when I was in my second year and we shared a studio room at some point. I worked various part time jobs. Met my British partner.

In 2015 I received offers from both  and  to do my Masters. In the summer I worked as an intern in London to save money. We had no savings and definitely not enough to pay the 10,000 pounds tuition fee. Should I have given up my dreams?

I borrowed money from the bank for my fee and accepted my Master of Philosophy (MPhil) offer at Cambridge. I had barely enough to cover the first term of college accommodation and no idea what to do next. My mum was made redundant and things were not going well.

Meanwhile one of my colleagues was shocked to hear my experience of college – “So you did not have prep classes for Oxbridge interviews???”. Nope. This is maybe why I failed my Oxford interview for undergrad despite passing the written test. Oh, also my poor English.

I read my MPhil handbook saying we should not do any paid work. I did paid work throughout my MPhil and finished with 72% overall. Meanwhile mum got a job and things got back to normal around graduation time, after a year of familiarizing myself with Sainsbury’s Basic [a supermarket chain offering low cost produce].

Should me and my mum have been deported due to insufficient resources in those times? “If you do not make a net contribution you should be sent home”, some claim. Life is not a tick-box as the immigration categories are.

Alexandra Bulat. Courtesy photo used with her permission.

In 2016 after a summer of work on a temp contract I accepted my fully funded PhD at . This was the best thing that happened to me. I was sad to leave Cambridge uni but I could not have afforded a PhD with no funding. Funding is very competitive in social sciences.

My mum’s job was again subject to restructuring in 2017. After a few months of job searching she decided to leave to Germany. She also was concerned about  after Brexit. They are not guaranteed yet. She is working in Germany now, the UK lost a skilled professional.

In 2018 all things go well. I speak fluent English, have a lovely British partner and I am halfway through my PhD. But I, like all  and  are still . Our reduced  are not secured in case of no deal.

In the mind of many people rudely commenting on  posts such as the stories shared in ‘s articles, we should be sent back home unless we are a constantly producing tax payment machine. It is important to realize the complexity of migrant stories. According to these people’s logic, my mum should have been deported every time she lost her job and I should not have been allowed in with little English or “insufficient resources”. We have not claimed a single benefit all these years, not even job-seeker’s allowance.

To everyone that tells me to stop criticizing settled status because “I will be fine, cos I am a PhD student and skilled migrant”, I am saying: no. I will not close the gate behind me just because I managed to become a “desirable migrant”.  were promised for all.

On 1 June 2016, few weeks ahead of the Brexit Referendum, the “Vote Leave” campaign issued a statement by Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, and Gisela Stuart, claiming that:

Second, there will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK. These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.

In October of the same year, David Davis, Brexit Secretary tried to downplay the concerns of people like Ms. Bulat’s mother, by claiming that “Five out of six migrants who are here either already have indefinite leave to remain or ​will have it by the time we depart the [EU].” However, the UK fact-checking service FullFact concluded:

This is not fully substantiated by the evidence and will depend on the arrangements we make upon leaving the EU. Whatever happens, EU citizens are not going to be forced to leave en masse.

FullFact also noted other points of uncertainty, which depend on the outcome of the UK-EU negotiations which are still in the works, and are supposed to end by March 2019. For instance, the right to permanent residence under EU law may or may not survive Brexit and might depend on meeting criteria for permanent residence such as “whether they’re working, looking for work, self-employed, studying or self-sufficient…”

Instead, automatic grant of all existing rights promised by Vote Leave is still uncertainty for both EU migrants in UK and British in EU27. Many areas remain unclear and are under negotiations such as some family reunification rights and political rights (EU migrants can vote in local elections only)…

recent protest by the group Highly Skilled Migrants, which says it represents over 600 doctors, engineers, IT professionals, teachers and their families in Britain attempted to raise profile of ‘discriminatory’ Home Office rules. The ‘harsh migration policy’ affects both immigrants from ‘overseas’, and those coming from the EU member countries. Latest data indicates large drop in the number of EU nationals seeking jobs in the UK due to Brexit uncertainty.

Ms. Bulat concluded her story with the following tweet:

We need a solution to protect all , just as promised by Vote Leave. No more “bad migrant”-“good migrant” division games. People’s lives do not fit in a tickbox. Politicians should listen to more real migrant stories to understand.

British politics in foment as exit poll shows May failing to win majority

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

British politics in foment as exit poll shows May failing to win majority

By Kate Holton and David Milliken | LONDON

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party will fail to win a parliamentary majority in Britain’s election, according to an exit poll on Thursday, a shock result that would plunge domestic politics into turmoil and could delay Brexit talks.

The exit poll predicted May’s party would not win a majority of the 650 seats in parliament to take office alone, meaning she would have to form a coalition or attempt to govern with the backing of other smaller parties.

The exit poll predicted the Conservatives would win 314 seats and the Labour Party 266, meaning no clear winner and a “hung parliament”.

The exit poll sent shockwaves through financial markets. Sterling fell more than two cents against the U.S. dollar. .

It was an extraordinary failure for May, who was enjoying opinion poll leads of 20 points and more when she called the snap election just seven weeks ago.

But her lead had gradually shrunk over the course of the campaign, during which she backtracked on a major social care proposal, opted not to take part in a high-profile TV debate with her opponents, and faced questions over her record on security after Britain was hit by two Islamist militant attacks that killed 30 people.

“If the poll is anything like accurate, this is completely catastrophic for the Conservatives and for Theresa May,” George Osborne, who was the Conservative finance minister from 2010 to 2016 when he was sacked by May, said on ITV.

Analysts were treating the exit poll with caution. In the last election, in 2015, the corresponding poll predicted May’s predecessor David Cameron would fall short of a majority. But as the night wore on and the actual results came in from constituencies, it became clear he had in fact won a majority, albeit a small one of just 12 seats.

That outcome was a triumph for Cameron though, because he had been predicted to fall well short. For May, who went into the campaign expecting to win a landslide, even a narrow win later in the night would leave her badly damaged.

Until the final results become clear, it is hard to predict who will form the next government.

“It’s difficult to see, if these numbers were right, how they (the Conservatives) would put together the coalition to remain in office,” said Osborne.

“But equally it’s quite difficult looking at those numbers to see how Labour could put together a coalition, so it’s on a real knife edge.”

Political deadlock in London could derail negotiations with the other 27 EU countries ahead of Britain’s exit from the bloc, due in March 2019, before they even begin in earnest.

A delay in forming a government could push back the start of Brexit talks, currently scheduled for June 19, and reduce the time available for what are expected to be the most complex negotiations in post-World War Two European history.

The poll forecast the Scottish National Party (SNP) would win 34 seats, the center-left Liberal Democrats 14, the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru three and the Greens one.

If the exit poll is correct, Labour, led by veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, could attempt to form a government with those smaller parties, which strongly oppose most of May’s policies on domestic issues such as public spending cuts.

May called the snap election to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations with the other 27 EU countries and to cement her grip on the Conservative Party after she took over as prime minister in the wake of last year’s Brexit referendum.

If she fails to win a majority, that could call into question her position as Conservative leader and might mean a second election in Britain this year.

If Corbyn’s Labour does take power with the backing of the Scottish nationalists and the Liberal Democrats, both parties adamantly opposed to Brexit, Britain’s future will be very different to the course the Conservatives were planning and could even raise the possibility of a second referendum.

May had promised to clinch a Brexit deal that prioritized control over immigration policy, with Britain leaving the European single market and customs union, and said no deal would be better than a bad deal.

Labour said it would push ahead with Brexit but would scrap May’s negotiating plans and make its priority maintaining the benefits of both the EU single market and its customs union, arguing no deal with the EU would be the worst possible outcome.

It also proposed raising taxes for the richest 5 percent of Britons, scrapping university tuition fees and investing 250 billion pounds ($315 billion) in infrastructure plans.

(Additional reporting by Paul Sandle, William Schomberg, Andy Bruce, William James, Alistair Smout, Paddy Graham, writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)