UK leader delays Brexit vote, risks further Cabinet discord

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May attends a summit between Arab league and European Union member states, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, February 24, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 24 February 2019
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UK leader delays Brexit vote, risks further Cabinet discord

  • The move has the potential to further sow discord within May's Cabinet
  • May told reporters as she traveled to Egypt that her negotiating team would return to Brussels on Tuesday for negotiations

SHARM EL-SHEIKH: British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Sunday that she is delaying a vote on her Brexit deal in Parliament, saying it should now take place by March 12, a little more than two weeks before the UK is due to leave the European Union.
The move has the potential to further sow discord within her Cabinet. Three senior Cabinet members already had suggested Saturday that they may break ranks with her and back amendments to delay Britain’s departure unless a deal is agreed upon by Parliament over the next week.
But May told reporters as she traveled to Egypt for an EU-Arab League summit and talks with European Council President Donald Tusk that her negotiating team would return to Brussels on Tuesday for negotiations aimed at wringing concessions out of her reluctant EU partners.
“As a result of that we won’t bring a meaningful vote to Parliament this week. But we will ensure that that happens by March 12,” she said.
Britain is due to leave the EU in just over a month on March 29. The UK would be the first country to leave the bloc and the move is full of deep economic and political consequences. But May has been unable to convince the UK Parliament to endorse the draft Brexit deal she agreed with the Europeans in November. Any deal must also be endorsed by the European Parliament before the deadline.
“It is still within our grasp to leave the European Union with a deal on March 29,” May said.
An EU official said there had been “no tensions” between May and Tusk during their half-hour meeting.
The official, who isn’t permitted to speak publicly while the negotiations are ongoing, said that May informed Tusk about the “work and timeline to find a way forward on Brexit. In particular, the prime minister’s plans in relation to the meaningful vote” meant to take place by March 12.
Tusk, who chairs summits of EU leaders and acts on their behalf, recalled that Britain’s 27 partners insist on “clarity that a proposal for the way forward can command a majority in the UK” before the leaders take the issue up again.
British lawmakers will consider various Brexit options this week as May continues to seek concessions from her EU counterparts. No visible signs of progress have emerged in recent weeks as the 27 other member countries continue to insist that they will not renegotiate the legally-binding divorce deal.


Swiss parliament backs expelling militants to states that use torture

Updated 56 min 41 sec ago
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Swiss parliament backs expelling militants to states that use torture

  • Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a debate in parliament that the government sympathized with proponents of the measure but its hands were tied
  • One of the convicted militants is a wheelchair-bound man found guilty in 2016 of planning terrorist attacks and helping Daesh operatives enter Switzerland

ZURICH: Switzerland’s parliament approved allowing convicted militants to be sent home to countries where they could face torture, leaving the government to decide how to implement the motion without breaking international law.
The Swiss constitution bans expelling people to countries where they might be subject to torture. But parlimament’s upper house on Tuesday narrowly adopted a motion allowing exceptions for foreign militants, as the Swiss lower house had done.
The motion stems from discontent among lawmakers over the ability of Iraqi militants convicted in Swiss courts of aiding Daesh to avoid being sent home because of the ban on exposing people to torture or other inhumane treatment.
Conservative critics say the ban has cost taxpayer money to care for convicted militants and angered citizens who say Switzerland should not have to host such people on its soil.
Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a debate in parliament that the government sympathized with proponents of the measure but its hands were tied.
“The security of the Swiss population has top priority but we also have to adhere to the limits of the rule of law.”
One of the convicted militants is a wheelchair-bound man found guilty in 2016 of planning terrorist attacks and helping Daesh operatives enter Switzerland. Freed from prison, he now lives in a transit center for asylum seekers and is fighting extradition.
Switzerland said this month it would not help bring home its own stranded citizens who had joined extremist forces in Syria and Iraq, insisting national security was paramount.
Switzerland is a signatory to the United Nations’ 1984 Convention against Torture, which bars expulsions of people to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
Iraq is also a party to the convention, but lacks laws or guidelines providing for judicial action when defendants allege torture or mistreatment, Human Rights Watch said in a report last year. It said torture was rampant in Iraq’s justice system.