London mayor calls for second Brexit referendum

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, appears on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, in London, Britain September 16, 2018. (BBC/Reuters)
Updated 16 September 2018
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London mayor calls for second Brexit referendum

  • Labor mayor says PM May leading UK down damaging path
  • Khan's backing adds pressure on Labour to back new vote

LONDON: London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for another referendum on Britain’s European Union membership, saying the prime minister’s handling of Brexit negotiations had become “mired in confusion and deadlock” and was leading the country down a damaging path.
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29. But with Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans still not accepted, some lawmakers, as well as union and business leaders, are arguing for people to have a final say on any deal with Brussels.
May has repeatedly ruled out a second referendum. She says members of parliament will get to vote on whether to accept any final deal.
The backing of Khan, a member of the main opposition Labour party, for a second referendum will put more pressure on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to change his opposition to the idea when the party meets for its annual conference in a week’s time.
A second referendum, dubbed a “people’s vote” by its proponents, is not Labour party policy, although finance spokesman John McDonnell said last month that no option should be off the table.
London backed remaining in the EU in the June 2016 referendum that went in favor of leaving.
Khan said Britain was now facing either a bad deal or a no-deal Brexit, both of which were “incredibly risky.”
Writing in Sunday’s Observer newspaper, he blamed the government’s handling of the negotiations and said the threat to living standards, the economy and jobs was too great for voters not to have a say.
“The government’s abject failure – and the huge risk we face of a bad deal or a no-deal Brexit – means that giving people a fresh say is now the right – and only – approach left for our country,” he said.

GOVERNMENT LIFELINE
Labour’s international trade spokesman Barry Gardiner said a second referendum would throw the Conservative government a lifeline.
“If this government cannot do what it is supposed to and govern, then we need actually to change the government,” he told Sky News.
Khan said the “sensible thing” would be for the prime minister to call a general election if she did not have support for any Brexit deal.
“(But) if there’s not going to be a general election, the next best thing is for the British public to have a say on the outcome of the negotiations,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr.
Environment Minister Michael Gove, a leading figure in the campaign to leave the EU more than two years ago, said Khan wanted to frustrate the vote.
“People voted clearly — 17.4 million people voted to leave the European Union — and Sadiq is essentially saying ‘Stop, let’s delay that whole process, let’s throw it into chaos’ and I think that would be a profound mistake,” he told Marr.
Theresa May said on Sunday she was focused on her plan for a relationship with the EU based on a common rulebook for all goods, and that she was “a little bit irritated” by constant speculation about her position.
“This debate is not about my future; this debate is about the future of the people of the UK and the future of the United Kingdom,” she said in excerpts from an interview with the BBC that will be broadcast on Monday
“It’s ensuring that we get that good deal from the European Union which is good for people in the UK, wherever they live in the UK, that’s what’s important for us.”
But with time running out for London and Brussels to thrash out a deal, Britain is preparing plans for a no-deal Brexit.
Finance Minister Philip Hammond told senior ministers last week that Brexit could have to be delayed beyond March 29 in order to pass new laws, The Sun newspaper said on Saturday.
The idea was immediately rejected by May, the report said.


Texas landowners file first lawsuit to block Trump’s national emergency declaration

Updated 2 min 8 sec ago
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Texas landowners file first lawsuit to block Trump’s national emergency declaration

  • California and the American Civil Liberties Union are also poised to sue
  • Trump's hopes of overturning any legal challenges may lie in the US Supreme Court
WASHINGTON: Three Texas landowners and an environmental group filed the first lawsuit on Friday challenging President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration aimed at freeing up billions of dollars to build a wall along the US border with Mexico, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said.
The lawsuit, brought in federal court in the District of Columbia, claims the south Texas landowners were told by the US government that it would seek to build a border wall on their properties if money for the project were available in 2019, Public Citizen said in a statement.
Trump declared a national emergency earlier in the day to bypass Congress to use money from the Pentagon and counter drug efforts to fulfill his promise of completing the border wall. The president said immigrants entering the US illegally were invading the country.
The announcement was immediately met with resistance from members of Congress.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several Democratic state attorneys general already have said they might go to court.
California is also likely to sue Trump, the state attorney general said Friday.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also announced its intention to sue less than an hour after the White House released the text of Trump’s declaration.

Two main issues
The coming legal fight seems likely to hinge on two main issues: Can the president declare a national emergency to build a border wall in the face of Congress’ refusal to give him all the money he wanted and, under the federal law Trump invoked in his declaration, can the Defense Department take money from some congressionally approved military construction projects to pay for wall construction?
The Pentagon has so far not said which projects might be affected.
But after weeks of publicly ruminating whether to act, Trump’s signature on the declaration set in motion a quick march to the courthouse.
Trump relied on the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which Congress adopted as a way to put some limits on presidential use of national emergencies. The act requires a president to notify Congress publicly of the national emergency and to report every six months. The law also says the president must renew the emergency every year, simply by notifying Congress. The House and Senate also can revoke a declaration by majority vote, though it would take a two-thirds vote by each house to override an expected presidential veto.
Beyond that, though, the law doesn’t say what constitutes a national emergency or impose any other limits on the president.
The broad grant of discretion to the president could make it hard to persuade courts to rule that Trump exceeded his authority in declaring a border emergency. “He’s the one who gets to make the call. We can’t second-guess it,” said John Eastman, a professor of constitutional law at the Chapman University School of Law.
Courts often are reluctant to look beyond the justifications the president included in his proclamation, Ohio State University law professor Peter Shane said on a call organized by the liberal American Constitution Society.
But other legal experts said the facts are powerfully arrayed against the president. They include government statistics showing a decades-long decline in illegal border crossings as well as Trump’s rejection of a deal last year that would have provided more than the nearly $1.4 billion he got for border security in the budget agreement he signed Thursday. Opponents of the declaration also are certain to use Trump’s own words at his Rose Garden news conference Friday to argue that there is no emergency on the border.
“I could do the wall over a longer period of time,” Trump said. “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”

No emergency
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Gov. Gavin Newsom, both Democrats, told reporters that there is no emergency at the border and that Trump doesn’t have the authority to make the declaration.
“No one in America is above the law, not even the president of the United States,” Becerra said. “The president does not have power to act frivolously.”
Trump declared a national emergency earlier in the day to bypass Congress to use money from the Pentagon and counter drug efforts to fulfill his promise of completing the border wall. The president said immigrants entering the US illegally were invading the country.
The announcement was immediately met with resistance from members of Congress.
Becerra and Newsom both challenge the notion that there was a true emergency. Becerra said past presidents used such declarations after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Iran hostage crisis in 1979.
Becerra pointed to Trump’s comments earlier in the day that he did not need to issue the emergency declaration but was doing so to accelerate plans for his border wall. He suggested Trump hopes any legal challenges will ultimately be determined by the US Supreme Court. Republican presidents appointed five of the court’s nine members.
“He knows he will lose in court and that he is hoping to use the US Supreme Court as a tool in his game to fulfill a campaign promise,” Becerra said.
Newsom argued that Trump’s plan to use money on the border wall that had been dedicated for military installations and combating drugs would hurt California.
Newsom on Monday signed an executive order to pull most of California’s 360 National Guard troops from the southern border but said 100 will remain there to help federal officials combating transnational drug crime.
“Interdiction policies we are engaged in that we want to advance in California now are being put at risk because of this political crisis that’s being manufactured,” Newsom said.
Building a wall, he argued, will not stop the flow of illegal drugs that come across ports of entry in vehicles or by other means.
Becerra has filed at least 45 lawsuits against the Trump administration.

Final arbiter
ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said Trump’s remarks are an admission that there is no national emergency. “He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress,” Romero said in a statement that also said the rights group would file a lawsuit next week.
Trying to turn the president’s words against him failed in the challenge to Trump’s ban on travel to the United States by citizens of several mostly Muslim countries. The ban’s opponents argued that Trump’s comments as a candidate and as president showed the ban was motivated by anti-Muslim bias, not concern about national security. Lower courts struck down the ban, but the Supreme Court upheld it in a 5-4 vote last year.
Trump said he expected to lose in lower courts that he claims have been unfair to him, particularly if lawsuits are filed in California. “Hopefully, we’ll get a fair shake and we’ll win in the Supreme Court, just like the ban,” he said.
Beyond the challenge to Trump’s authority to declare an emergency, lawsuits also are expected to focus on the military construction project law that allows the re-allocation of money in a national emergency.
Eastman said he doubts that the Supreme Court would try to interfere with Trump’s decision to send the military to the border and then authorize the use of money from other Defense Department construction projects to build miles of a border wall. “The president is authorized to make those judgments, not some judge in San Francisco,” Eastman said.
But the ACLU’s suit will argue that Congress allowed for flexibility in using money it appropriated for projects needed to support the emergency use of the military forces, like overseas military airfields in wartime.
Several legal experts said claims that the building of the wall is not the kind of project contemplated in the military construction law could be more difficult to rebut because border security is more like a law enforcement issue than a military emergency.
But Shane, the Ohio State professor, said, “It’s hard to know how exactly this is going to unfold politically or judicially.”