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British Prime Minister Theresa May survives latest
bid to ease her out of Number Ten Downing Street

by Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May survived the latest bid on Wednesday night to see her ousted from 10 Downing Street.

Backbench MPs from her governing Conservative Party met in London and rejected calls for the party’s rules to be changed to pave the way for a challenge to May as early as June.

A growing number of MPs have expressed dissatisfaction with her handling of negotiations over Brexit, and want her to quit.

May has indicated that she will announce her departure date from Number 10 when a withdrawal deal is agreed by the British Parliament.

Last December May survived a confidence vote, and under current rules she cannot be challenged again until 12 months after the decision, which means no challenge can be made until this December.

Conservative politicians at a behind-closed-doors meeting decided against changing the rules to enable a confidence vote in a leader to be considered six months afterwards, rather than a year.

Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, made up of Conservative backbench MPs, said he will be telling the Prime Minister over the next few days that backbenchers expect more detail on her departure plans, including what happens if she fails to get her Brexit deal through the House of Commons again.

Brady told journalists after the meeting that the decision was the result of two lengthy meetings and good full and constructive debates, in a friendly and collegiate way.

He said the issue was now settled and that there was "not a mood to revisit this matter in the near future".

Speculation in Westminster was growing Wednesday that May is considering asking the House of Commons within the next few weeks to vote on her Brexit Withdrawal Bill, the legal process needed to allow Britain to leave the EU.

Her withdrawal bill has already been rejected on three occasions by MPs in the House of Commons.

Politicians and political commentators say what would amount to a fourth outing for her Brexit plan would be high risk because if the legislation is rejected by MPs the government would not be able to bring it back again for another vote in the same parliamentary session.

Britain had been due to leave the EU on March 29, but its membership of the bloc had been extended by the EU Council until October 31 after efforts to agree a withdrawal deal failed to materialize.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

Blame game continues as search for Brexit solution goes on in London

by Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- Politicians returned to Westminster Tuesday after their Easter recess with no progress reported during the latest round of talks between the two main parties seeking to end the Brexit deadlock.

The governing Conservatives and their rivals, the Labour Party, blamed each other for the lack of progress in the quest to find a deal both sides can agree to enable Britain to leave the European Union.

Prime Minister Theresa May, eager for her own three-times rejected Brexit withdrawal deal to win support, accused Labour of "dragging its feet in Brexit compromise talks", the Daily Telegraph in London reported.

May is said to have told her senior ministers at a Tuesday cabinet meeting that while talks with Labour were serious, they had hit difficulties over how quickly they should take place and reach a conclusion.

Main opposition leader, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn accused the government of just "regurgitating" the prime minister’s plan over and over again, accusing the government of dragging its feet.

Corbyn said the government had so far refused to move on the terms of May’s Brexit deal which MPs have already rejected three times, once by the biggest margin in British political history.

The Telegraph commented: "The comments by the two leaders suggest a Brexit breakthrough remains incredibly unlikely and the two sides may well be pivoting towards a blame game ahead of the potential collapse of the talks."

May’s official spokesman told a regular media briefing that the government’s position was that progress needed to be made urgently as it was vital to deliver on the result of the 2016 referendum when people voted to leave the EU by a 52-48 margin.

Corbyn responded: "There has got to be a change.

"We have a window of opportunity to bring about that change.

"I hope the government recognises that and makes the most of it."

Talks between the two parties took place Tuesday, led by Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, while Labour’s negotiating team was led by Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

If the British parliament fails to agree a Brexit deal quickly, Britain will have to take part in next month’s European Parliament elections, even though the MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) elected would only serve in office until Britain leaves the bloc.

The latest potential candidate to announced she will be seeking a seat in the European Parliament is 53-year-old, Rachel Johnson, sister of former Foreign Secretary, and an ex-mayor of London, the Conservative Boris Johnson.

Meanwhile the fate of May’s reign as Britain’s prime minister dominated talk in the corridors of Westminster Tuesday.

Britain’s media has widely reported that an increasing number of Conservative MPs want May to announce the date she will leave 10 Downing Street, with some saying they favour a date in early June.

Backbench Conservative MPs gathered at a meeting in London to discuss whether there should be a change of rules to enable a no-confidence vote to take place.

May survived such a vote late last year, and under current party rules, she cannot be challenged for a year. It would mean a fresh challenge not taking place until the end of 2019, unless the rules are changed.

Reports in London late Tuesday said no conclusion had emerged during a meeting of the executive of the 1922 Committee, the name of the body representing backbench Conservative MPs.

One report said a further meeting would take place Wednesday to discuss a possible change in the party rules.

Newspapers in London said Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee had met May in her Westminster office and told her a number of MPs wanted her to name a date for her departure.
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Scotland’s first minister calls for new independence vote before 2021

by Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- People in Scotland should be given the chance before 2021 to vote for independence from the United Kingdom, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in a major speech Wednesday.

Sturgeon made the call in a speech to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood following the decision by the EU Council to extend Britain’s membership of the bloc until October 31.

In her statement to MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament), Sturgeon said:

"A choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this Parliament.

"I can confirm that the Scottish Government will act to ensure that the option of giving people a choice on independence later in this term of Parliament is progressed," she said.

She also said the British government at Westminster should revoke Article 50 rather than press ahead with Brexit if leaving with no deal is the only option.

Article 50 is the mechanism triggered as part of Britain’s exit process from the EU.

Sturgeon, who is also leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), warned that as new deadline October approaches the risk of a no deal Brexit will rise again.

"The immediate priority we now have is to stop Brexit for the whole UK and we should seize that opportunity, and my party will seek to do so," she added.

If that cannot be achieved, said Sturgeon, dealing with the consequences of Brexit, and facing up to its challenges, will be unavoidable.

"I believe that the case for independence is now stronger than ever and I will make that case," she said.

She said the Scottish government will take the necessary legislative steps to pave the way for a referendum over the coming months.

Sturgeon acknowledged that the Scottish government would need the agreement of Westminster before holding a new independence referendum.

In 2014, people in Scotland voted by a 55.3 to 44.7 margin to remain as part of the United Kingdom. In total 2,001,926 voted to stay, with 1,617,989 wanting to leave the UK. Almost 85 percent of voters in Scotland took part in the referendum vote.

             

 

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