EU’s Barnier says UK future at stake in Brexit vote

Michel Barnier: 'Rather than stay shoulder to shoulder with the Union, the British chose to be on their own again'. ( Reuters )
Updated 06 December 2018
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EU’s Barnier says UK future at stake in Brexit vote

  • The British parliament’s vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal will determine the future of the country
  • Barnier told the gathering of the European Committee of the Regions that it was key now that the withdrawal treaty agreed between Brussels and London be ratified

BRUSSELS: The British parliament’s vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal will determine the future of the country, the chief EU Brexit negotiator said on Thursday, insisting that the deal was the only route to secure an orderly withdrawal from the EU.
“If there is no withdrawal treaty, there is no transition, no basis of confidence that we need with the British regarding the future relationship,” Michel Barnier told representatives from cities and regions in the European Union.
Barnier told the gathering of the European Committee of the Regions that it was key now that the withdrawal treaty agreed between Brussels and London be ratified.
“Now is now the moment for everyone to bear their responsibilities. You know the British parliament will give its verdict on this text and on the future relationship in the coming days. It is a vote in which the future of their country is at stake.”
The British parliament is due to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal next Tuesday, with the odds looking stacked against May’s government winning that vote.
Many of May’s Conservatives are particularly skeptical about the fallback arrangement, or “backstop,” to guarantee that there is no return to a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, seen as essential to preserving peace.
Supporters of a clean break with the EU say the backstop could leave Britain forced to accept EU regulations indefinitely, or Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of Britain.
“This backstop,” said Barnier. “We will do everything we can to avoid using it.”
Barnier repeated his view that the Brexit deal that May wants the British parliament to back is the best Britain will get to arrange its orderly withdrawal from the EU.
“The agreement that is on the table — the withdrawal agreement and the agreement on the future relationship — are, in our view, the only and best possible to organize an orderly withdrawal,” he said.


Italian hostage freed after 3 years in Syria returns home

Updated 23 May 2019
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Italian hostage freed after 3 years in Syria returns home

  • The man who disappeared traveled to Turkey in October 2016
  • An official said the man was kidnapped by a criminal gang

MILAN: Italy’s defense minister says an Italian who had been held hostage in Syria for three years has been released and returned to Italy.

Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta late Wednesday confirmed Alessandro Sandrini’s arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport and thanked Italian intelligence services for their role in his liberation. Details were not disclosed.

Sandrini, who is in his early 30s, disappeared after traveling to Turkey in October 2016, and wasn’t heard from for over a year. In July 2018, a dramatic video showed Sandrini wearing an orange jumpsuit flanked by masked men brandishing automatic weapons, appealing to Italy to help free him as quickly as possible.

A local government in Syria affiliated with the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Hayat Tahir-al Sham said he had been kidnapped by a criminal gang.