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.


Strasbourg gunman Cherif Chekatt shot dead by police

Updated 14 December 2018
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Strasbourg gunman Cherif Chekatt shot dead by police

  • Chekatt was killed after firing on police officers, who returned fire
  • Reporters near the scene heard three to four gunshots after a huge police operation

LONDON: A gunman on the run since he killed three people at Strasbourg’s popular Christmas market has been shot dead by police.

More than 700 French security forces had been hunting for 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt since the bloodshed on Tuesday night.

Cherif Chekatt was killed in the Neudorf/Meinau area of the city after a police operation was launched around 2100 hrs (2000 GMT) on Thursday about 2 kilometers from where he launched his attack on Tuesday.

Chekatt was killed after firing on police officers, who returned fire, a source said.

Reporters near the scene heard three to four gunshots after a huge police operation with armed forces from the BRI and RAID units. A police helicopter had been circling overhead.

The death toll from Tuesday’s attack rose to three as police on Thursday combed the city in the east of France for a second day and manned checkpoints on the German border.

Police issued a wanted poster in multiple languages for Chekatt, who was the main suspect in the attack and who had been on a watchlist as a potential security threat.

Authorities say the 29-year-old was known to have developed radical religious views while in jail.

Earlier in the day armed and masked police swooped on Strasbourg neighborhoods with elite RAID officers fanning out across three locations in late afternoon, including the area where Chekatt was last seen.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said Chekatt’s parents and two brothers were being held in custody.

Two of his sisters in Paris were also questioned on Thursday and one of their homes was searched, a judicial source said.