UK PM faces backlash over Brexit compromise

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London on October 10, 2018 ahead of the weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons. (AFP)
Updated 12 October 2018
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UK PM faces backlash over Brexit compromise

  • Negotiations in Brussels have stepped up in recent days ahead of a high-stakes EU summit next week
  • Some euroskeptics, notably House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, are said to be considering quitting.

LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May will not “trap” Britain in an endless customs union with the European Union after Brexit, her office insisted Friday amid growing unease in her cabinet and party that this might be the price of a divorce deal.
Negotiations in Brussels have stepped up in recent days ahead of a high-stakes EU summit next week, with both sides seeking a breakthrough less than six months before Brexit in March 2019.
May briefed selected members of her cabinet late Thursday on the talks, at which several ministers reportedly expressed deep unease at a plan to avoid frontier checks with EU member Ireland.
Some euroskeptics, notably House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, are said to be considering quitting.
Britain has proposed that it continue to follow EU customs rules after Brexit as a fall-back option to keep open the land border with Ireland, until a wider trade deal is agreed that avoids the need for frontier checks.
May says this will only be temporary, but her spokeswoman was forced to clarify the point after media reports that the final “backstop” arrangement will have no legal end date.
“The prime minister would never agree to a deal which could trap the UK in a backstop permanently,” she said.
The Downing Street spokeswoman repeated that Britain wanted a new trade deal by the end of December 2021 at the latest, although she declined to confirm the backstop would be “time-limited.”
Her careful words only fueled speculation of a compromise with Brussels, although Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab later said the backstop would have to be “finite,” “short” and “time-limited.”
Brussels has insisted that, as an insurance plan, the backstop cannot by its very nature have an end date.
However, euroskeptics in May’s Conservative party are wary of being tied to the bloc indefinitely.
“That won’t wash. The British people voted to take back control over money, laws, borders and trade,” said former Brexit minister Steve Baker, one of a powerful group of euroskeptic Conservative MPs in parliament.


Libyan navy says it intercepted 91 Europe-bound migrants

Updated 16 June 2019
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Libyan navy says it intercepted 91 Europe-bound migrants

  • Libya became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe
  • An official said the migrants were given humanitarian and medical aid and then taken to a refugee camp in Tripoli

CAIRO: Libya’s coast guard says it has intercepted a rubber vessel carrying 91 Europe-bound migrants, including women and children, off the country’s Mediterranean coast.
Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said Sunday that three women and two children were among the African migrants intercepted a day earlier off the coast of the western town of Garaboli, 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli.
He says the migrants were given humanitarian and medical aid and then taken to a refugee camp in Tripoli.
Libya became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe after the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
Libyan authorities have stepped up efforts to stem the flow of migrants, with European assistance.