May to tell British parliament Brexit ‘95 percent’ settled, faces party mutiny

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, center, speaks with European Council President Donald Tusk during a summit at the European Council in Brussels on Friday, October 19. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2018
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May to tell British parliament Brexit ‘95 percent’ settled, faces party mutiny

  • ‘Ninety-five percent of the Withdrawal Agreement and its protocols are now settled,’ according to a partial transcript released by her office
  • Talks have stalled over how to stop its land frontier with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, becoming a hard border again

LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May will tell Britain’s parliament on Monday that Brexit negotiations are “95 percent” complete but that she cannot accept the European Union’s Northern Ireland border proposals — as she faces down an increasingly mutinous faction within her own party.
May has been on the receiving end of a furious backlash from Brexit hardliners in her own party after indicating at an EU summit last week that she could accept a longer post-divorce implementation phase than previously envisaged.
Her shift aimed to break an impasse in negotiations between London and Brussels over how to keep the Irish border open after Brexit, by giving the two sides more time to agree their future relationship.
But it infuriated Brexiteer colleagues who fear remaining tied to the EU for years after Britain’s formal departure next March.
Several Sunday newspapers said rebellious MPs were preparing a fresh bid to topple her leadership this week, many carrying colorful off-record quotes from the plotters.
In a bid to calm passions, May will address MPs in the House of Commons on Monday where she will say the divorce deal with Brussels is nearly done.
“Ninety-five percent of the Withdrawal Agreement and its protocols are now settled,” she will tell parliamentarians, according to a partial transcript released by her office late Sunday.
Highlighting progress in the year-long talks, she will say agreements have now been reached across a broad range of issues including with Spain on the status of the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, and with Cyprus on the UK’s military bases there.
“We have broad agreement on the structure and scope of the future relationship, with important progress made on issues like security, transport and services,” she will say.
But on Ireland she will seek to reassure MPs in her own party that she will not bow to the EU’s current proposals.
“As I set out last week, the original backstop proposal from the EU was one we could not accept, as it would mean creating a customs border down the Irish Sea and breaking up the integrity of the UK,” she will say.
“I do not believe that any UK Prime Minister could ever accept this. And I certainly will not.”
The so-called backstop is a proposal to keep either Northern Ireland or all of Britain in a customs union should future trade talks end in deadlock.
Talks have stalled over how to stop its land frontier with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, becoming a hard border again.
London believes customs and other checks can be avoided through a new trade agreement with Brussels, but accepts the need for a fallback plan until that deal is agreed.
However, the two sides have so far been unable to settle the terms of this so-called backstop.
France’s Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau told the BBC Sunday that the bloc needs “definitive answers, or at least no temporary measures which disappear and we don’t know what to do afterwards.”
Despite voting in favor of a split from Europe, the British public remain deeply polarized on Brexit.
On Saturday more than half a million anti-Brexit protesters hit the streets of London, the largest demonstration since 750,000 people showed up against the Iraq war in 2003.


Head of Qatari opposition to launch community debate center in London

Updated 35 min 36 sec ago
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Head of Qatari opposition to launch community debate center in London

​LONDON: Khalid Al-Hail, spokesperson of the Qatari Opposition Movement, announced on Sunday the launch of his Majlis (Arab-styled Community Debate Center) in London, with the inauguration ceremony expected later this month.
​“I believe it is a great idea to launch this Majlis; where people can informally meet within an intellectually-inspiring and friendly atmosphere, to discuss, debate and exchange views and ideas on various political, strategic, and social issues.” said Al-Hail.
​“What’s more, I believe this initiative will be paramount in bringing together the British and Arabs residing in this country together, and help foster relations and accomplish a better mutual understanding, and strengthen the values of peaceful co-existence and tolerance.” Al-Hail added.

​“We also aim to enlighten the Qatari case, and introduce the views, values, and endeavours of the Qatari Opposition, in addition to creating a platform for constructive networking between Qataris and Arabs on the one side, and British experts and public opinion makers,” Al-Hail said.
​He also said “to achieve those goals, we will carry out various daily activities with live coverage, including speeches delivered by experts followed by Q&A sessions, presentations, documentaries, and round-table discussions.”
The Qatari Opposition Movement is a political movement striving for a peaceful change of the Qatari regime, and for a constitutional monarchy that embraces the time-honored values of the Qatari people, establishes a rule of law and institutions, and democracy in the country.