Cabinet at war: Theresa May convenes ministers at Chequers to settle Brexit divisions

– February 22, 2018

Theresa May has brought her cabinet ministers together at her country residence of Chequers in the hope of bridging some of the divisions that remain over Brexit.

Ministers have been at loggerheads over the direction that the UK should be moving, with pro-Brexit MPs calling for a clean break, while pro-remain minsters are calling for a softer and less harsh departure from the EU.

As well as her own ministers, the PM needs to convince EU leaders that the UK has a clear direction and vision that it wants from Brexit.

Before the UK officially leaves the EU, a transition period will take place, currently billed as from March 2019 to December 2020.

Ministers have so far failed to agree on how the UK should proceed during this near two-year period with debate over new rules and ongoing EU policies.

EU leaders formally approve second Brexit phase

DW – December 15, 2017

EU leaders meeting in Brussels said on Friday that the way was clear for the opening of the second phase of Brexit negotiations with the UK.

European Council Donald Tusk announced the agreement on Twitter, at the same time congratulating British Prime Minister Theresa May on having brought the divorce settlement negotiations thus far.

“As for the framework for future relations, it is now time for internal EU 27 preparations and exploratory contacts with the UK to get more clarity on their vision,” Tusk later said, referring to the 27 EU member states that will remain after Britain’s departure.

Friday’s approval gives May a welcome success after she lost a parliamentary vote over giving lawmakers the ultimate say on the final Brexit deal.

Brexiteers are furious at ‘sellout’ Theresa May’s deal with Europe

 – December 8, 2017

This morning (8 December) Fleet Street was abuzz about a deal struck between Theresa May and the EU over the final divorce bill, Irish border and migrant rights – thus paving the way for further talks on Brexit.

A senior British source has revealed the UK will pay a financial settlement estimated at £35-£39 billion (40-45 billion euro) as it leaves the EU.

Ireland’s border with the UK had become a major sticking point in negotiations and a previous agreement was scuppered by unionists in Northern Ireland, who were opposed to any move that would see it economically separated from the rest of the country.

The DUP has now cautiously welcomed Whitehall’s assurances that the province would not remain in the single market when the UK leaves the EU in 2019, but says there is “more work to be done” on the matter.

Despite the positive signs from most commentators, Pro-Brexit figures have been growing increasingly angry about details, which seem to suggest that the UK could headed for a soft Brexit.

DUP scuppers Theresa May’s Brexit deal in fury over Irish border agreement

 – December 4, 2017

Nationalist leaders from across the United Kingdom have voiced their concerns over a possible deal that could see Northern Ireland continue under EU trade laws and regulations.

In a bid to maintain the peace between Northern Ireland and the Republic, leaked reports have suggested that there would be no divergence in law across the island of Ireland, even after Brexit.

But leaders from the devolved regions have all raised concerns with the plans.

In Brussels, Theresa May was forced to exit talks without a signed deal.

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said that there was no deal reached but that it was still possible by the end of the week.

Brexit: UK Parliament to vote on final deal

DW – November 13, 2017

Brexit minister David Davis has said UK lawmakers will have the chance to vote on Britain’s final exit deal from the EU. Despite the concession, Davis stressed that the UK will leave the EU “whatever the outcome.”

Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Davis confirmed on Monday that parliament will be allowed to “debate, scrutinize and vote” on any final agreement on the country’s departure from the European Union.

“I can now confirm that once we’ve reached an agreement we will bring forward a specific piece of primary legislation to implement that (Brexit) agreement,” Davis told parliament. Primary legislation refers to making law by acts of parliament or statute.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has long been under pressure to offer a “meaningful vote” on whatever deal the UK reaches with EU negotiators, as lawmakers within her own Conservative party, as well as in the opposition Labor party, threaten to stymie any future agreement.

Parsons Green: UK raises terror threat to critical after London terrorist bomb attack

DW – September 15, 2017

British police embarked on a wide manhunt on Friday following a terrorist attack on a London subway train.

An improvised device hidden inside a plastic bucket and a supermarket freezer bag exploded inside a packed train carriage, injuring 29 people, mostly with burns.

“Clearly, this was a device that was intended to cause significant harm,” Prime Minister Theresa May said after calling a meeting of the government’s COBRA emergency committee.

Later on Friday, May said the country’s threat level had been raised from severe to the highest possible level of critical, which means an attack is expected imminently.

“The public will see more armed police on the transport network and on our streets providing extra protection,” May said.

UK government finds majority of 36 to pass EU withdrawal bill

DW – September 12, 2017

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill aims to convert around 12,000 EU laws and regulations into UK domestic laws on the day Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

After an eight-hour debate on Monday, the House of Commons voted 326-290 in favor of the bill’s second reading, which allows it to pass to the next stage of the parliamentary process.

Earlier in the day, Brexit Secretary David Davis said “a vote against this bill is a vote for a chaotic exit from the European Union.”

“The British people did not vote for confusion and neither should Parliament,” he said.

Welcoming the vote, Prime Minister Theresa May issued a statement: “Although there is more to do, this decision means we can move on with negotiations with solid foundations and we continue to encourage MPs (lawmakers) from all parts of the UK to work together in support of this vital piece of legislation.”

UK election results cast cloud over Brexit talks

DW – June 9, 2017

UK Prime Minister Theresa May had called Thursday’s snap elections to strengthen her hand in Brussels, but the loss of her Conservative majority has plunged the Brexit process into disarray just over a week before talks are scheduled to begin.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the vote showed just how unpopular May’s Brexit plan was among the public. He added that Britain should rethink how it leaves the EU.

“The message from this vote is: hold fair talks with the EU and think again whether it is really good for Britain to leave the EU in this manner,” he told reporters on Friday, adding that he hoped “a new government will be formed quickly with which we can hold serious negotiations.”

“No government, no negotiations” was what Günther Oettinger, the European commissioner for budget and human resources, told the German public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Friday. “With a weak negotiating partner, there is a risk that the negotiations will go badly for both sides,” he said.

EU Council President Donald Tusk was more blunt, warning that even if talks did not have a start date, they will end in March 2019.

Against terror backdrop, the UK prepares to vote

DW – June 6, 2017

Britain is gearing up to go to the polls on June 8 after an extraordinary election campaign. It is one that has been, all too often, overshadowed by tragedy, with major terror attacks in London and Manchester over the last month.

Campaigning was suspended on Monday, in the wake of the weekend’s terror attack on London Bridge. But the ostensible suspension of campaigning did not stop Labour and the Conservatives from trading barbs. Labour criticized Theresa May’s record of cutting funding for the police, while the Conservatives said that Labour would not be strong on terror.

“Inevitably there will be increased discussion of security, with Labour focusing on Conservative cuts to police numbers and the Conservatives asking whether Labour is tough enough on counter-terrorism,” said Tom Follett, policy and projects manager at the think tank ResPublica. “However, other domestic issues have played a significant role in this election and voters know by now that life goes on after terror attacks.”

British public shocked as Theresa May calls snap election

DW – April 18, 2017

Ever since Theresa May became prime minister, after Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23 and David Cameron resigned, the possibility of an early election has hovered in the background. May has strenuously denied that this was her plan.

In September, she said: “I’m not going to be calling a snap election. I’ve been very clear that I think we need that period of time, that stability, to be able to deal with the issues that the country is facing and have that election in 2020.” As late as last month, Downing Street was denying that an early election was on the cards.

So what has changed? Over the past few months, May has set out her vision for a hard Brexit in which Britain does not retain any kind of partial membership of the EU. In Tuesday’s statement announcing an election on June 8, May made it explicit that she is seeking to strengthen her mandate for this, saying that “at this moment of enormous national significance here in Britain, there should be unity in Westminster.”