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'Trick or Treat Brexit' delay will haunt PM May as Britain
wakes up to another six months in the European Union

by Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- Opinions were mixed Thursday on the Brexit delay date of Oct. 31 agreed upon by British and European Union (EU) leaders.

The newly-proposed departure date has already ensured that it will be known as the "Trick or Treat Brexit," falling on the eve of Halloween.

It was well after 2:00 a.m. (0000 GMT) before Prime Minister Theresa May gave her verdict to the decision in Brussels by the 27 leaders of EU member states to allow, on the eve of Britain’s proposed departure date, to give May and her squabbling politicians another six months to make up their minds.

As politicians outlined their grim prospects for May and her Conservative government, Britain’s national newspapers, collectively known as Fleet Street, went into early morning overdrive to give their verdict on the latest development after EU Council President Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker announced the decision.

The Times and the Guardian both headlined May planning to stay on as prime minister, insisting that she could still strike a Brexit deal.

The "i" newspaper’s front page said there was a backbench mutiny by Conservative members of parliament (MPs) over the protracted delay to Britain’s departure from the EU.

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant wrote in the Daily Telegraph that May humiliated herself and Britain by begging Brussels for more time on Brexit, adding "it will haunt her."

"The Prime Minister should not expect to be buoyed by her party’s support," he said, warning the Conservatives risked losing dozens of its seats in the House of Commons in the next election.

Also in the Telegraph, the newspaper’s Europe editor Peter Foster said what emerged from six hours of talks in Brussels was "an ugly duckling compromise driven as much by the need to resolve Franco-German differences as it was anything to do with addressing the merits of Theresa May’s request for an extension."

The eventual outcome of the extension is now arguably the worst of all worlds, said Foster.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis said May is no closer to getting a deal through the British Parliament and the pressure on her to go will increase dramatically.

"Without changes to her deal, it is difficult to see how she would get the support of enough MPs for it to pass," he added.

Putting on a brave face to defend the British government, Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng said the aim was still to get a Brexit deal through the House of Commons before May 22 to avoid Britain taking part in European Parliament elections.

"It’s been a difficult process but I think that people are beginning to see that a deal is the way out of the EU," Kwarteng said in an early morning radio interview.

Kwarteng said the government was still preparing for the eventuality of no deal, adding Britain would have to take part in European elections if a withdrawal deal is not agreed.

MP Mary Creagh welcomed the outcome of the Brussels summit, saying:

"People across the UK will be relieved at this sensible extension.

"Parliament must agree and MPs must move swiftly to break the Brexit deadlock with a confirmatory ballot on the Prime Minister’s deal."

The call for a second referendum also came from Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, a staunch opponent of Brexit.

Sturgeon said: "It is a relief that, thanks to the patience of the EU, we will not be crashing out tomorrow.

"But the UK must not waste this time—allowing people to decide if they still want to leave is now imperative."

Other politicians joined the growing chorus wanting a so-called People’s Vote on a deal or Britain remaining in the EU.

MP Tom Brake said: "The British people have been given a lifeline.

"A flextension until 31st Oct is long enough to hold a People’s Vote."

Referring to bilateral talks between the two main party leaders, Brake asked:

"Will Theresa May and (Labour leader) Jeremy Corbyn surprise us all by agreeing to test the will of the people.

"Or will they let their narrow party and personal interests prevail?"

Former Labour front-bencher Chuka Umunna said members of the breakaway Independent Group of MPs at Westminster also wanted a second referendum.

"Unless the main party leaders do a backroom deal to enable a customs union Brexit and deny the British people a say over this mess—a big risk—this extension paves the way for Euro elections and a People’s Vote, which we must grab with two hands for the sake of future generations," Umunna said.

Labour’s shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said he now accepts that a people’s vote may offer a solution to the Brexit deadlock.

"Some sort of people’s vote may be necessary as a way out of this impasse.

"Now that the deadline has been extended, we are trying to see if a compromise can be sorted.

"If that can’t be done, if the prime minister won’t move on red lines, then a public vote of some description may be needed as a way out of this mess," he said in a media interview.

Talks between the Conservative government and Labour are scheduled to resume Thursday, but in the first three rounds of talks between the two, no prospects of an agreed deal emerged.

Away from politics, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said:

"This new extension means that an imminent economic crisis has been averted, but it needs to mark a fresh start. More of the same will just mean more chaos this autumn."

The continuing rift between Leave-backing and Remain-supporting politicians, reflected by Fleet Street analysis, points to tough days ahead as the elusive Brexit deal is sought.

The catch phrase—Deal or No Deal—is now competing with a "Trick or Treat Brexit."
.

UPDATE:

UK Independence Party co-founder Farage re-enters front line of British politics

BY Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- Nigel Farage, the British politician who help launch the campaign over 25 years ago to bring Britain out of the European Union, re-entered front line politics on Friday.

Farage, who currently serves as an MEP (Member of the European Parliament), launched the new Brexit Party, promising to bring about a democratic revolution in British politics.

Farage was a co-founder of UKIP, the UK Independence Party, which went on to become a powerful voice in the campaign for Britain to end its membership of the EU.

Launching his return to front-line politics in Coventry, Farage said the launch marked the start of a fightback against a career political class that has betrayed the Brexit referendum.

He has been critical of the way British Prime Minister Theresa May has handled Brexit negotiations with Brussels.

After the extension granted to Britain this week by the European Council, the likelihood is that voters in Britain will have to elect MEPs when European Parliament elections take place on May 23.

Farage said the newly-formed Brexit Party is expected to have around 70 candidates taking part in the election.

Britain currently has 73 MEPs sitting in the European Parliament.

One of the candidates he introduced was Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of British MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg who is one of Britain’s best known political figures.

Media in London said Annunziata Rees-Mogg told the audience at today’s launch she could "not stand by whilst our democracy has been so betrayed".

The Daily Telegraph quoted Jacob Rees-Mogg as expressing his regret that his sister has left the Conservatives to stand as a candidate for Farage’s Brexit Party.

"The Brexit Party is fortunate to have such a high-calibre candidate but I am sorry that Annunziata has left the Conservative Party," he said in a statement.

Farage said in his first key-note speech:
"I said that if I did come back into the political fray it would be 'no more Mr Nice Guy' and I mean it.

"I am angry.

"I said many years ago I wanted to cause an earthquake in British politics.

"Now what I will attempt to achieve is a democratic revolution in British politics."

Farage said Britain’s current two-party system, dominated by the Conservative and Labour parties, cannot cope with Brexit.

"It has been exposed as being unfit for purpose.

"We have a parliament that is completely out of touch with our country," he added.

Meanwhile in Westminster another meeting took place Friday between top teams from the Conservative and Labour Parties in the quest to end the impasse that so far prevented the House of Commons agreeing on a Brexit deal.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said cabinet minister David Lidington and Secretary of State for Environment Michael Gove held talks with a team led by him.

No bulletin was issued after the talks, but in a brief statement McDonnell said they had been positive and constructive.

McDonnell added: "A timetable is being worked out for more meetings over the next seven to 10 days."

The European Council agreed to a six-month extension of the Brexit process early on Thursday morning, setting a new deadline for Britain to leave the European Union on Oct. 31, 2019.

The British Parliament is currently in recess until April 23.
.

British politicians sent home as Westminster closes its doors for Easter

by Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- More than 600 Members of Parliament politicians returned to the constituencies across Britain Thursday as Brexit was put on hold.

They started their Easter recess with a message from British Prime Minister Theresa May to return to Westminster on April 23.

Addressing MPs, May told them:

"Let us use the opportunity of the recess to reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return after Easter.

"And let us then resolve to find a way through this impasse so that we can leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible."

It may be a case of politicians being "de-mob" happy or just political fatigue, but many have admitted to feeling the strains of long, late night sittings and intensive debates about Britain’s long-drawn out withdrawal from the EU.

Some MPs have even resorted to counselling to help them through the political maze created by Brexit.

May has won a delay from the EU which means politicians now have until October 31 to reach a withdrawal deal with Brussels.

But the prime minister remains committed to ending Britain’s membership of the bloc long before then.

As MPs were packing their bags to head to train stations and airports for the journeys to their homes, stay-behind teams from May’s Conservative government and the main opposition Labour Party were locked in their fourth round of private talks.

May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are trying to find a way out of what has become an impasse in the search for an elusive Brexit deal.

Following the latest talks late Thursday between their two teams, May and Corbyn held a short meeting.

A spokesperson for the Labour leader said later:

"Both sides agreed to continue talks in an effort to make substantive progress towards finding a compromise plan."

So far there are no clear signs that a breakthrough is close.

May’s official spokesperson refused to say at a media briefing Thursday whether the prime minister plans to resign if she cannot get a deal through past MPs.

May had indicated, when her deadline was a June 30 departure date, that she would quit 10 Downing Street if a deal was agreed by the British parliament.

After agreeing to the extended deadline until October, May has faced renewed calls to quit from Conservative politicians angered by the delay to Britain’s departure.

There were gasps in the chamber of the House of Commons when veteran Conservative MP Bill Cash asked May whether she was going to resign.

May responded: "I think he knows the answer", taken by politicians as a No.

Unless the parliament agrees on a withdrawal before May 22, Britain will have to take part in elections for British members of the European Parliament, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

The elected MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) would only serve until Britain ended its membership.

Conservative party managers across the country have said there is little mood for party workers to campaign for candidates, particularly as weeks earlier they will have been campaigning for council candidates in town and city local elections.

And although the front pages of Britain’s national newspaper are likely to be virtual Brexit free zones for the coming days, the future of Britain’s destination, in or out of the EU, will not be off the agenda for long.

             

 

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