Lawmakers say UK should consider postponing Brexit

An airplane takes off at London City Airport. UK lawmakers said the government should consider postponing Brexit to have time to secure a deal with the EU. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2018
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Lawmakers say UK should consider postponing Brexit

LONDON: Britain should consider postponing Brexit because there may not be enough time to strike a deal with the European Union before the UK leaves the bloc a year from now, a key committee of British lawmakers said Sunday.
The House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee said if major aspects of the future relationship with the EU remain unsettled by October, Britain should seek a “limited extension” of its EU membership.
Britain and the EU want a deal on future relations settled by the fall so national parliaments can approve it before Britain officially leaves the 28-nation bloc on March 29, 2019.
In a report published Sunday, the lawmakers said a proposed transition period of about two years should also be able to be extended if needed. The two sides have agreed in principle that Britain will continue to remain part of the bloc’s structures and rules until the end of 2020.
Seven pro-Brexit members of the 21-member all-party committee refused to back the report, preparing an alternative version that took a more uncompromising tone toward the EU.
The majority-backed report said it is worrying that there has been “little progress” in solving the key issue of how to maintain an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.
Britain and the EU agree there must be no customs posts or other infrastructure along the all-but-invisible border, but the committee said Britain has yet to put forward credible proposals for how this could work.
“We know of no international border, other than the internal borders of the EU, that operates without checks and physical infrastructure,” said the committee’s chairman, Labour lawmaker Hilary Benn.
The pro-Brexit dissenters filed an alternative document, accusing the EU of taking an unhelpful approach to the border issue. They suggested that new technology and “streamlined” customs arrangements can deliver a frictionless border.
Rather having Britain seek to extend its EU membership, the minority group said the U.K should walk away without a deal if talks bog down.


Indian court finds spiritual guru guilty of raping devotee

Updated 25 April 2018
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Indian court finds spiritual guru guilty of raping devotee

NEW DELHI: An Indian court on Wednesday found a high-profile spiritual guru Asaram Bapu guilty of raping a teenage female devotee in 2013 and he faces a maximum of life in prison.
The verdict against 77-year-old Bapu was read out inside a prison in the city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan state because of fears that his followers may resort to violence.
The case is the latest in a series of high-profile rape cases in India that have fueled public protests and raised questions about how police handle the cases and treat the victims.
In August last year, another popular and flamboyant Indian spiritual guru, Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of raping two female followers.
Judge Madhusudhan Sharma will announce the prison term for Bapu later after hearing arguments from the prosecution and Bapu’s attorneys.
Bapu has denied the rape and can appeal his conviction in a higher court.
The girl in her complaint to the police in 2013 accused Bapu of raping her when she visited his retreat in Jodhpur with her mother. The girl’s family said they had been followers of Bapu for more than a decade.
Bapu has been in prison since his arrest in the case in 2013.
On Wednesday, security was tight around the prison complex and in states where the self-styled guru has a considerable following.
Religious sects also wield considerable political clout in India with several politicians as followers. Asaram is also on trial along with his son Narayan Sai in a separate rape case where two sisters have accused the two men of sexual assault.