British PM pushes for Brexit deal vote after being forced to seek delay

Johnson was ambushed by opponents in parliament on Saturday who demanded a change to the sequencing of the ratification of the deal, exposing the prime minister to a law which demanded he request a delay until Jan. 31. (File/AFP)
Updated 21 October 2019

British PM pushes for Brexit deal vote after being forced to seek delay

  • The divorce is again in disarray as Britain’s political class argue over whether to leave with a deal, exit without a deal or hold another referendum

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will again try to put his Brexit deal to a vote in parliament on Monday after he was forced by his opponents to send a letter seeking a delay from the European Union.

With just 10 days left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31, the divorce is again in disarray as Britain’s political class argue over whether to leave with a deal, exit without a deal or hold another referendum.

Although Johnson hammered out a deal in grueling talks with EU officials last week, it was not certain that the speaker of the House of Commons would allow a vote on the deal on Monday.

Johnson was ambushed by opponents in parliament on Saturday who demanded a change to the sequencing of the ratification of the deal, exposing the prime minister to a law which demanded he request a delay until Jan. 31.

In a twist that illustrates the extent to which Brexit has strained the norms of British statecraft, Johnson sent the note to the EU unsigned - and added another signed letter arguing against what he cast as a deeply corrosive delay.

“A further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us,” Johnson said his own letter, signed “Boris Johnson”.

The EU has not yet given a clear response.

The British government insisted on Sunday the country will leave the EU on Oct. 31, and plans to put the deal to a vote in parliament later on Monday though it is unclear if the House of Commons speaker, John Bercow, will allow such a vote.

Bercow will make a statement on the proceedings shortly after parliament opens at 1330 GMT.

If Bercow, who said on Saturday he was blindsided by the government’s debate proposal, does not allow it then the government will have to try to push on with the legislation needed for ratification of Johnson’s deal.

But that is a path that exposes Johnson to attempts by opponents to wreck the agreement.

Sterling, which has rallied more than 6% since Oct. 10, slid from five-month highs on Monday. It hit as low as $1.2850 in Asian trading before settling around $1.2920 in London, down 0.5% on the day.

Goldman Sachs raised the probability of the United Kingdom leaving with a ratified deal to 70% from 65%, cut its view of the chances of a “no-deal” Brexit to 5% from 10% and left its view on no Brexit at all unchanged at 25%.


Iran dismisses ‘desperate’ US move to end nuclear waivers

Updated 28 May 2020

Iran dismisses ‘desperate’ US move to end nuclear waivers

  • ‘Ending waivers for nuclear cooperation with Iran ... has effectively no impact on Iran’s continued work’

TEHRAN: Tehran on Thursday dismissed the impact of what it called Washington’s “desperate attempt” to end sanction waivers for nations that remain in the Iran nuclear accord.
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said the United States had made the move in a bid “to distract public opinion from its continued defeats at the hands of Iran.”
“Ending waivers for nuclear cooperation with Iran... has effectively no impact on Iran’s continued work” on what the Islamic republic insists is a purely civilian nuclear energy program, its spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi added in a statement published on the agency’s website.
The US decision, he said, was in response to Iranian fuel shipments to Venezuela — which is also under US sanctions — and the “significant advancements of Iran’s nuclear industry.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the United States was responding to Iran’s “brinksmanship” — its scrapping of certain nuclear commitments aimed at pressuring Washington to remove sanctions as called for by the 2015 accord.
“These escalatory actions are unacceptable and I cannot justify renewing the waiver,” Pompeo said in a statement.
President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the landmark agreement — also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — and reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018.
The remaining parties to the deal include Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
In May 2019, Iran announced it was suspending nuclear commitments to the deal, starting with removing limits on its heavy water and enriched uranium stockpiles.
It was in retaliation for US sanctions and what Iran deemed Europe’s inaction to provide it with the JCPOA’s economic benefits.
Washington had until now issued waivers to allow companies, primarily from Russia, to keep carrying out the nuclear work of the agreement without risking legal ramifications in the US economy.
It will end waivers that allowed the modification of the heavy water reactor in Arak, which prevented it from using plutonium for military use, as well as the export of spent and scrap research reactor fuel.
Kamalvandi said ending the waivers would not impact Iran’s continued work on the Arak reactor and “other equipment” by Iranian experts.