UK does not need Brexit to curb EU immigration, says Blair

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks during a BBC show in London on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 10 September 2017
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UK does not need Brexit to curb EU immigration, says Blair

LONDON: Britain could bring in tough new controls on immigration from the EU without actually having to leave the bloc, former Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Sunday.
Concerns over the impact of high levels of immigration on public services and housing were cited as a factor by many who voted to leave the EU in last year’s referendum.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government has said free movement of EU citizens coming to Britain must end.
Many Brexit supporters blame Blair’s government, which allowed citizens of former communist states to settle immediately in Britain despite a long transition period implemented by other EU countries, for a big influx of EU migrants from 2004.
“There is no diversion possible from Brexit without addressing the grievances that gave rise to it. Paradoxically, we have to respect the referendum vote to change it,” Blair, who has said Brexit can and should be stopped, wrote in the Sunday Times newspaper.
“We can curtail the things that people feel are damaging about European immigration, both by domestic policy change and by agreeing change within Europe to the freedom of movement principle,” added Blair, who led a Labour government for a decade from 1997.
Asked about Blair’s proposals, Defense Minister Michael Fallon said the government had to get on with delivering Brexit.
“The country has taken its decision, we are leaving the EU now and that means freedom of movement has to end ... there have got to be restrictions on those coming here,” he told BBC Television.
A leaked government document last week said Britain was considering measures to restrict immigration for all but the highest-skilled EU workers, plans some companies called alarming.
A paper published on Sunday by Blair’s Institute for Global Change said the government could take steps including registering EU migrants when they arrive to keep track of whether they meet EU rules about finding work.
EU migrants could also be forced to show evidence of a job offer before being allowed to enter Britain, and those without permission to reside could be banned from renting, opening a bank account or accessing welfare benefits, it said.
The paper also proposes seeking an “emergency brake” to implement temporary controls on migration when services are stretched — a strengthened version of a deal offered to former Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of the referendum.


North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

Updated 20 September 2019

North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

  • South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme
  • Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, although a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people

SEOUL: North Korea’s crop production this year is expected to drop to its lowest level in five years, bringing serious shortages for 40 percent of the population, as a dry spell and poor irrigation hit an economy already reeling from sanctions over its weapons programs, the United Nations said on Thursday.
In its latest quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the poor harvest of the country’s main crops, rice and maize, means 10.1 million people are in urgent need of assistance.
“Below-average rains and low irrigation availability between mid-April and mid-July, a critical period for crop development, mainly affected the main season rice and maize crops,” the FAO said. The report, which covers cereal supply and demand around the world and identifies countries that need external food aid, didn’t disclose detailed estimates of production by volume.
North Korea has long struggled with food shortages and a dysfunctional state rationing system, and state media has in recent months warned of drought and other “persisting abnormal phenomena.”
The crops shortfall comes as the country bids to contain the spread of African swine fever in its pig herd, following confirmation of a first case in May.
The disease, fatal to pigs though not harmful to humans, has spread into Asia — including South Korea — since first being detected in China last year, resulting in large-scale culls and reduced production of pork, a staple meat across the region including in North Korea.
The FAO report followed earlier UN assessments this year that the isolated country’s food production last year fell to its lowest level in more than a decade amid a prolonged heatwave, typhoon and floods.
South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme (WFP). But its delivery has been delayed by Pyongyang’s lukewarm response amid stalled inter-Korean dialogue and denuclearization talks with the United States, Seoul officials said.
In July, the North’s official KCNA news agency said a campaign to mitigate the effects of drought was under way by digging canals and wells, installing pumps, and using people and vehicles to transport water.
But North Korea has told the United Nations to cut the number of its staff it deploys in the country for aid programs. citing the “politicization of UN assistance by hostile forces.”
Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, but observers said a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people.