EU says Britain needs new plan as Brexit clock runs out

United Kingdom's Brexit advisor David Frost arrives at EU headquarters for a technical meeting on Brexit, in Brussels. (AP)
Updated 07 October 2019

EU says Britain needs new plan as Brexit clock runs out

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted he will not ask to postpone Britain’s planned October 31 departure from UN
  • Brussels has said these plans are not a basis for an agreement

BRUSSELS: European officials warned Monday that Britain’s latest Brexit proposal won’t serve as a basis for a breakthrough before next week’s Brussels summit.
With no draft deal on the table before the October 17 meeting, Britain and Europe will face either a chaotic break-up or yet another Brexit delay.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted he will not ask to postpone Britain’s planned October 31 departure from the European Union.
However, he may be forced to do so by a British law passed to prevent a potentially economically calamitous no-deal divorce, with European negotiators warning time is running out.
Johnson’s envoy, senior diplomat David Frost, was in Brussels on Monday for more “technical talks,” and Brexit minister Stephen Barclay traveled to the Hague to meet Dutch officials.
But both heard that the latest British plans to impose alternative customs arrangements on Northern Ireland, to be reviewed every four years by the provincial assembly, is unlikely to convince.
“I think we all agree we need a workable solution now and not something based on untried and revokable arrangements that would be left to negotiation during the transition period,” EU spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said.
“As we have also recalled, the UK proposals presented last week do not meet at present the objectives of the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland,” she said, referring to negotiating terms agreed in 2017.
“This is also the shared view of European Parliament, but also all member states,” she added.
Meanwhile, after a “frank and honest” discussion with Barclay, Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok said “more realism and clarity” would be needed if this week’s talks are to go much further.
Additionally, in an interview with Le Monde, chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier warned that if London “does not come back with new proposals on the two serious problems we have indicated to them, I cannot see how we can move forward.”
Despite the divisions, Frost is still meeting with EU officials for technical talks, but doubts remain that a workable Brexit deal text will be available by Friday.
If it is not, European officials warn, there will be no time to get member states to sign off on it before October 17 and 18, the last scheduled European summit before Brexit day.
Britain insists its offer represents significant concessions and now the EU must show similar flexibility, but Brussels is adamant it will not agree to any plan that undermines its single market or leaves Ireland exposed.
In London, a Number 10 spokesman said: “We are ready to talk with the EU at a pace to secure a deal so that we can move on and build a new partnership between the UK and the EU.
“But if this is to be possible the EU must match the compromises that the UK has made,” he warned.
On Sunday, Barclay suggested London could be willing to soften its position on Northern Ireland, describing last week’s suggestion as “a broad landing zone” rather than a final take-it-or-leave-it offer.
But, during telephone talks with Johnson on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron made it clear that the EU would decide by the end of this week whether a deal is possible.
The British proposals submitted to Brussels last week center on how to manage the post-Brexit border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Johnson wants Northern Ireland’s devolved assembly — which has been suspended for almost three years — to vote every four years on whether to maintain EU rather than British regulations there.
He has also proposed the province leaves the EU’s customs union along with the rest of the UK, with checks on trade to rely on untried technology and to be carried out away from the sensitive border.
Brussels has said these plans are not a basis for an agreement.
Separately, British anti-Brexit campaigners failed to secure a court ruling forcing Johnson to seek an extension in the event of a no deal — but only because the Edinburgh Court of Session decided that the government had already made “unequivocal assurances” it would abide by the law.


For Iman Jodeh, being Muslim and a progressive Democrat go hand in hand

Updated 21 min 16 sec ago

For Iman Jodeh, being Muslim and a progressive Democrat go hand in hand

  • Iman Jodeh, the Democratic nominee for Colorado’s House of Representatives District 41, speaks to Arab News

NEW YORK CITY: In the 1980s and 1990s, Colorado’s Muslim community was made up of fewer than 30,000 people, and there were only five mosques in the entire state.

“It was really small, but we were happy,” said Iman Jodeh, the Democratic nominee for Colorado’s House of Representatives District 41.

Ever since she was a child, on the first day of Ramadan, Jodeh has sent teachers a letter, written on the mosque letterhead, saying: “For the next 30 days, Muslims will be fasting. So if your Muslim students seem lethargic by the end of the day, please understand why.”

Today, there are over 100,000 Muslims in Colorado.

(Photo: Supplied, Iman Jodeh)

“Those Muslims are starting to make up a big voting bloc, a big portion of our legislators’ constituency. And it is incumbent upon those legislators to make sure they are listening and taking into account the views of the constituents, regardless of their race, creed or religion. And I constantly remind them of that,” Jodeh told Arab News by phone.

The Democrat hopeful grew up in the shadow of two Gulf wars, and shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the Afghan and the Iraqi wars. She remembers the anonymous phone calls at dinnertime threatening to kill her father Mohammed, and recalls her mother, who wears a hijab, being frightened to leave the house.

“It changed my life. In the wake of 9/11, I was a sophomore in college and had not declared my major yet. Two days later, I was a political science major and, again, speaking to crowds having to defend my religion.”

Being a first-born, first-generation American, with perfect English, understanding the cultural nuances of America, I had to walk that line of also understanding the Arab heritage and Islamic culture and nuances, and marrying those two to be able to communicate the need of being an Arab Muslim American woman.

Iman Jodeh

Jodeh, a trained political scientist, spent the years following those events advocating for the Muslim community and the Middle East, “the most misunderstood region of the world, and the people who call it home.” She taught about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the University of Denver, held cultural events about the region and discussed Islam.

The most effective results, according to Jodeh, came via her non-profit “Meet the Middle East,” which invited Americans to take an “educational immersion journey” to the region to meet various stakeholders there, from Arab Bedouin to Palestinians living in Nablus, and both right-wing and left-leaning Israelis.

The travelers were invited to spend time in Jordan, Egypt, and sometimes Iraq and Morocco.

“From the Berbers of Morocco to the Kurds of Iraq, all these cultural and regional nuances must be understood before you can even attempt to understand the complexities of the conflict, and the kaleidoscope that make up the Middle East,” Jodeh said.

(Photo: Supplied, Iman Jodeh)

“There are things we can highlight to prove to the world that the Muslim world is one of the most fascinating places to be: There are nine women heads of state in the Muslim world, and the US has yet to see our first. It was Arabs and Muslims who discovered contagion; Arabs and Muslims who discovered latitude and longitude.

“Some of the first and oldest libraries were in Alexandria and Baghdad. And one of the oldest universities was in Morocco, founded by a woman.

“The more we can show that to Americans, the more we’re going to see further understanding and commitment to ending violence in the Middle East, as well as asymmetrical policies from the US and how we look at the region.”

Jodeh said her love for Palestine is ingrained. She was never introduced to it. She did not have a first language: It was Arabic and English her entire life. She was never just American. She was Palestinian American.

I am running to make the American dream a reality for everyone. The American dream has become harder and harder to realize. It is not a trite or cliched phrase for me. I am someone who is the product of a family who came here to realize that dream and with the cost of living, the lack of health care, our climate being threatened, our lack of criminal justice reform, civil rights being accosted... These are all things that are hurting the American dream. This is un-American, this is not the Colorado that I want to see.

Iman Jodeh

“This is my identity, I will never abandon this narrative, because I feel I have an obligation to all Palestinians everywhere to advocate when I can.

“The age of learning, that renaissance period is coming. But we have to get through our dark ages before we can get there. And, unfortunately, that is what we are witnessing today in the Middle East. And it’s heartbreaking.

“But the majority of people in the Middle East are under the age of 35, people like myself. We are just learning how to step outside dictatorship and implement something that we have known our entire lives to be true, which is democracy.

(Photo: Supplied, Iman Jodeh)

“Democracy is not a concept that is new to the Arab world. Shariah law has paved the way for democratic processes like social welfare,” she said.

To Jodeh, being a Muslim and a progressive Democrat complement each other. She gained her knowledge of Islam from her father, a Palestinian immigrant who co-founded the largest mosque in the Rocky Mountain region, and took his daughter with him when he taught or gave speeches on Islam. That put her in contact with scholars whom she still consults today.

In Aurora, a city she calls home and “one of the best and most diverse cities in the nation, a true reflection of America,” Jodeh has been working at the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, where she speaks, often as a Muslim voice, on contentious bills, such as Equal Pay for Equal Work.

(Photo: Supplied, Iman Jodeh)

“I testified that, 1,400 years ago, God came down with a verse in the Qur’an: ‘I never fail to reward any worker among you, for any work you do, be you male or female — you are equal to one another.’

“It was ironic to me as a woman following a religion that is often deemed as primitive, that this was prescribed to the people 1,400 years ago.

“In Islam, there’s a chapter in the Qur’an called ‘Al-Nisa’ or ‘The Woman.’ There is not a chapter called ‘The Man.’

“What’s beautiful about the Qur’an is that it grants women rights not granted to women in the West until the 1920s,” Jodeh said.

“The fact that those rights were laid out for women so early on is proof of the sanctity of a woman in Islam: Her right to divorce, to own land, to take part in government, to own her own business. These were all things that have been practiced and continue to be practiced.”

The Democratic Party primaries in Colorado will take place on June 30.