UK ministers attack Britain’s upper house over Brexit vote

File photo showing the Houses of Parliament in London (Reuters)
Updated 01 May 2018
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UK ministers attack Britain’s upper house over Brexit vote

LONDON: Ministers criticized the upper house of parliament on Tuesday due to its vote to give parliament powers to block or even stall Brexit, saying the move would tie the government’s hands in negotiations with the European Union.
The House of Lords voted overwhelmingly on Monday in favor of an amendment to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint, or the EU withdrawal bill, to offer what some peers said was a truly “meaningful vote” on any final deal.
It was seventh of nine defeats in the last two weeks for the government, which says the EU withdrawal bill is purely a technical document to “copy and paste” EU law into British law and guarantee a smooth Brexit.
At a meeting of May’s top cabinet ministers, the prime minister and her Brexit secretary, David Davis, led the expressions of disappointment over the Lords’ vote.
“Cabinet expressed its strong disappointment at the defeats inflicted on the EU withdrawal bill in the House of Lords, saying they risked tying the government’s hands behind its back in negotiations with Brussels,” May’s spokesman told reporters.
He added, “The prime minister said when the bill returns to the House of Commons, the government will be robust. She said it was vital to ensure the legislation is able to deliver the smooth Brexit which is in the interests of everybody in the United Kingdom.”
He declined to comment directly on whether the government would try to overturn the amendment which, if passed by the lower house, would allow parliament to send ministers back to the negotiating table in Brussels or halt the Brexit process.
“As for individual amendments, we have said we will look at those and discuss those in due course,” the spokesman said, adding that if the government’s hands were tied in the talks, “that’s not something we believe is in the UK’s interest.”
The government has said parliament will get a vote on any final deal with the EU, but only to “take it or leave it.” Some peers in the House of Lords, and lawmakers in the lower house, want parliament to be given a bigger say in the process.
Earlier, May’s trade minister, Liam Fox, accused the unelected peers in the upper house of “trying to block the democratic will of the British people.”


Thousands attend funeral of 'youngest' rebel killed in Kashmir

Updated 15 min 52 sec ago
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Thousands attend funeral of 'youngest' rebel killed in Kashmir

  • Mudasir Ahmad Parrey was killed alongside two other militants
  • A funeral procession Monday for the slain teenagers turned violent as mourners clashed with police

SRINAGAR, India: Thousands of mourners thronged the funeral on Monday of a 14-year-old rebel shot dead by Indian troops in Kashmir, the youngest-ever fighter killed in the decades-long insurgency, police said.
Mudasir Ahmad Parrey was killed alongside two other militants, one a 17-year-old, outside the city of Srinagar on Sunday.
Parrey, a ninth-grade student, went missing in August before emerging in a photograph on social media brandishing an automatic assault rifle and military knife.
The young militants' deaths sparked angry protests in the restive Himalayan region administered by India but also claimed in full by Pakistan.
A funeral procession Monday for the slain teenagers turned violent as mourners clashed with police, who used tear gas to drive them back.
Rebels fighting for Kashmiri independence or a merger with Pakistan have been warring with Indian troops in the disputed territory since the late 1980s.
The violence has left tens of thousands dead, mostly civilians.
But this year has been the deadliest in a decade in Kashmir, with rights monitors saying more than 500 people have been killed from armed conflict.
Many young men die fighting Indian troops but Parrey's death shocked even a region weary from years of bloodshed.
At 14, police said he was the youngest known fighter to have died in the insurgency.
He was killed in an 18-hour siege by Indian troops in Hajin, outside Srinagar. The home Parrey and the two other militants were holed up in was blasted to rubble.
"He had never failed in school exams," mourned his father, Rashid. The teenager also sometimes worked as a labourer to help out with family expenses, he added.
Many Kashmiris sympathise with the rebels fighting half a million Indian troops stationed in the heavily-militarised Muslim-majority region.
Civilians often pelt soldiers with stones while they are conducting search operations for militants, and funerals for slain fighters draw thousands of mourners and see shops closed.
New Delhi has long accused Islamabad of stoking anti-India sentiment in the region and funding militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba fighting in Kashmir.
Police believe the teenagers killed in Sunday's fighting joined the militant group around August. The third dead fighter is a Pakistani national, police say.
Pakistan says it only provides diplomatic support to the Kashmiri struggle for right to self-determination.