UK PM says open to longer post-Brexit transition

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the European Council in Brussels on Oct. 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2018
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UK PM says open to longer post-Brexit transition

  • EU negotiator Michel Barnier raised the idea as a way of breaking the deadlock on how to keep Britain’s border with Ireland open after Brexit
  • “A further idea that has emerged — and it is an idea at this stage — is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months,” says May

BRUSSELS: Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed Thursday that Britain would consider extending the transition period after Brexit for a few months if needed to agree on a new trade deal with the EU.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier raised the idea as a way of breaking the deadlock on how to keep Britain’s border with Ireland open after Brexit, the key issue holding up the divorce talks.
But May emphasized she did not expect the extension beyond the current date of December 2020 to be needed, amid anger among eurosceptics at home that Britain could be tied to the EU indefinitely.
Arriving for the second day of summit talks in Brussels, May noted that both sides remained at odds over a “backstop” plan to avoid frontier checks in Ireland if and until a new trade deal could be signed.
“A further idea that has emerged — and it is an idea at this stage — is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months,” she said.
“But the point is that this is not expected to be used, because we are working to ensure that we have that future relationship in place by the end of December 2020.
“I’m clear that it is possible to do that (deal) and that is what we are working for.
“And in those circumstances there would be no need for any proposal of this sort and I’m clear that I expect the implementation period to end at the end of December 2020.”
The possibility of an extension made front-page news in Britain on Thursday and some euroskeptic MPs warned they could not accept such a plan.
The top-selling The Sun tabloid warned it was “an outrageous non-starter.”
“Unless she can give a date when we will leave the EU and ALL its major institutions she cannot claim to have fulfilled the referendum vote” in 2016 for Brexit, it said in an editorial.


Duterte skips summit meetings but is in ‘top shape’

Updated 14 November 2018
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Duterte skips summit meetings but is in ‘top shape’

  • An official named four scheduled events that Duterte had not attended on Wednesday, during which the president “took power naps” to catch up on sleep
  • Duterte’s health has been a constant source of speculation since he disappeared from public view for a week last year

SINGAPORE: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte skipped several meetings at an Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore on Wednesday, prompting the 73-year-old’s office to issue a statement scotching speculation that it was due to ill health.
“We assure the nation that his aforementioned absence has nothing to do with his physical health and wellbeing which have been the subject of speculation,” spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“The president’s constantly punishing work schedule is proof that he is in top physical shape.”
Panelo named four scheduled events that Duterte had not attended on Wednesday, during which the president “took power naps” to catch up on sleep, and said he would also skip a gala dinner with the leaders of nine Southeast Asian nations, US Vice President Mike Pence and several others.
Duterte’s health has been a constant source of speculation since he disappeared from public view for a week last year, and he has said openly that he is tired and would like to step down before the end of his term ends in 2022.
Last month Duterte’s office revealed that he had undergone a colonoscopy and he told reporters that a biopsy had shown he did not have cancer.
The constitution provides for the public to be told of the state of health of an incumbent president, if serious.
If a sitting president dies, is permanently disabled or removed through impeachment, the vice president succeeds to serve the remaining years in a six-year, single term.
Vice President Leni Robredo, a leader of the opposition, was elected separately in 2016. Speculation about Duterte’s health last month prompted concern that the Philippines could be headed for uncertainty given the highly polarized political climate.
Duterte has cited Robredo’s “incompetence” as a reason for his inability to quit as president.
Duterte has a record of skipping summit sessions, though he did not miss any as host when the Philippines held the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last year.
Panelo said it was “amusing that some quarters are making a big fuss” of Duterte’s absences, noting that he had attended ASEAN meetings with leaders from China, Japan and Russia.
“Last night, the president worked late and had only less than three hours of sleep,” he said. “It is unfortunate that the first event scheduled today was at 8:30a.m.”
Duterte is known for having an unorthodox working schedule that typically starts mid-afternoon and includes cabinet meetings that can go on beyond midnight.