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British Prime Minister Theresa May has admitted the country faces a political crisis as she prepares to ask the European Union to allow Britain to delay Brexit.
She will deliver her plea for extra time ahead of a Brussels summit on Thursday at which EU leaders are expected to spell out their exasperation over the chaos surrounding Brexit. The turmoil has been triggered by two crushing Commons defeats for her withdrawal plans and her continuing failure to win over Tory Eurosceptics and DUP MPs to supporting her Brexit blueprint.
It has been compounded by Speaker John Bercow’s warning that she cannot make a third attempt to win approval for her proposals unless they are substantially rewritten.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said she told MPs last week that “we would be in crisis” if they rejected her plans. EU Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says something new is needed if Article 50 is to be extended [Getty Images]
Referring to Mr Bercow’s surprise intervention, he added: “I think events yesterday tell you that that situation has come to pass.” Downing Street has admitted that time has run out for Britain to leave the EU on its scheduled departure date of 29 March and acknowledged the need for more time. Its preference is to hold a third “meaningful vote” next week – possibly on Thursday 28 March – followed by a short extension to pass the legislation required to pass the necessary legislation for Brexit.
Mrs May will make her case in a letter to Donald Tusk, the European Council president, to be sent on Wednesday. She is expected to call for postponement of Britain’s departure by at least three months, although reports have suggested that she could raise the prospect a far longer delay. However, Brussels warned that she will only be granted a lengthy delay if she produces a “concrete plan” for using the extra time.
The ultimatum was delivered by Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator. In words that appeared to open the door to a soft Brexit, second referendum or even general election, Mr Barnier said extra time would be granted for a “new event or a new political process”.
Is an extension useful?
It came as Germany, France and Ireland signalled their frustration at the latest impasse in the Brexit process. But Mr Barnier told journalists: “It is our duty to ask whether this extension would be useful because an extension will be something which would extend uncertainty and uncertainty costs.” He warned that the UK would need to propose “something new” to justify a lengthy extension, he said. It has been suggested that Mrs May could ask for a lengthy extension to Article 50, with the option of an early break in May or June if she manages to get her Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament. But Mr Barnier said it was time for the government to spell out a clear preference, adding: “it’s either one or the other, isn’t it?”
Michael Roth, Germany’s Europe minister, said EU member states were “really exhausted” by the UK’s approach to talks, warning the situation was “not just a game”. His French counterpart Nathalie Loiseau said Ms May would have to present “something new” that did not just result in an extension of “the same deadlock”. Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, said Britain would need to provide a “very persuasive plan” to accompany its request for a delay to Brexit. He added: “It’s also been very clear that there is absolutely no appetite to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement or the detail of that.”
March 14 (UPI) — Boeing stands to lose billions over the fallout from the global grounding of its 737 Max 8 aircraft and airlines are reshuffling flights to accommodate concern for the new airliner’s safety.
After days of resisting, Boeing made a recommendation to the Federal Aviation Administration Wednesday to temporarily suspend flights of its 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft. Many others, including the European Union, Britain and Canada, had already grounded the plane and barred flights in their airspace.
The decision came three days after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 crashed and killed all 157 people aboard. The crash had many similarities to an accident involving another Max 8, flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air, in October.
“We are doing everything we can to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said.
Boeing’s Max series aircraft replaced the 737-800 and made its first commercial flight in 2017. A high-density version of the Max 8, the Max 200, was set to enter service next month. It’s unclear whether the Ethiopian crash will affect its launch. The Max 9, with a longer fuselage, entered service last year. The new planes cost about $50 million each.
Wall Street firms Melius Research and Jefferies estimate the grounding could cost Boeing between $1 billion and $5 billion. The estimates are based on the planes being grounded for three months. Boeing reported a profit of $10.6 billion in 2018.
This isn’t the first time this decade Boeing has faced trouble with a new aircraft model. In 2013, it grounded the new 787 Dreamliner after lithium ion batteries caught fire on multiple flights. With only about 50 Dreamliners in service at the time, however, the impact was smaller.
Wednesday’s decision sent U.S. carriers United, American and Southwest scrambling to replace Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft on their flight schedules. American and Southwest fly the Max 8 and United has Max 9s. American had been flying more than 80 Max 8 flights per day.
Southwest said it plans to operate its schedule with every available airplane in the fleet to meet the changes. The airline won’t charge passengers to change flights within 14 days of the original date of travel.
“We have been constant contact with the FAA and Boeing since Ethiopian Airlines’ accident,” Southwest said in a statement. “While we remain confident in the Max 8 after completing more than 88,000 flight hours accrued over 41,000 flights, we support the actions of the FAA and other regulatory agencies and governments across the globe that have asked for further review of the data — including information from the flight data recorder.”RELATED Dow Jones rebounds from Boeing losses, closes up 201 points
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the carrier is working to “minimize disruptions to our customers’ travel plans.”
LONDON (Reuters) – The future of Britain’s exit from the European Union hung in the balance on Tuesday as lawmakers prepared to vote on a divorce deal after Prime Minister Theresa May won last-minute assurances from the European Union.
Scrambling to plot an orderly path out of the Brexit maze just days before the United Kingdom is due to leave, May rushed to Strasbourg on Monday to agree ‘legally binding’ assurances with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
British lawmakers, who on Jan. 15 voted 432-202 against her deal, were on Tuesday studying the assurances with lawyers. The government’s top lawyer, Geoffrey Cox, is due to give his opinion on Tuesday ahead of the vote due around 1900 GMT.
“We have secured legal changes,” May said in a late night news conference in Strasbourg beside Juncker, 17 days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29.
May said the assurances created an arbitration channel for any disputes on the backstop, “entrenches in legally-binding form” existing commitments that it will be temporary and binds the UK and EU to starting work on replacing the backstop with other arrangements by December 2020.
After two-and-a-half years of haggling since the 2016 Brexit referendum, Juncker cautioned this was the last chance for Britain. “It is this deal or Brexit might not happen at all,” he said.
Sterling rose 1.5 percent against the dollar and to a near two-year high against the euro.
If lawmakers vote down May’s deal, she has promised a vote on Wednesday on whether to leave without a deal and, if they reject that, then a vote on whether to ask for a limited delay to Brexit.
Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido said in an interview that the expulsion of the German ambassador by Caracas was a threat against Germany, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Thursday.
“This action represents a threat against Germany,” Guaido was quoted as saying on Thursday.
German ambassador Daniel Kriener was expelled two days after he and diplomats from other embassies welcomed home Guaido at Caracas airport.
Wednesday, March 6
US to revoke more visas of Venezuelans
Vice President Mike Pence said the US will revoke more visas from prominent Venezuelans as it seeks to increase pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to give up power.
Pence told the Latino Coalition that the US will revoke 77 visas held by officials in the Maduro government or their relatives.
He said, “The time has come to liberate Venezuela from Cuba.”
Venezuela expels German ambassador for meddling, detains American journalist
Venezuela’s government expelled the German ambassador while press advocacy groups said an American journalist had been detained.
Ambassador Daniel Kriener was expelled two days after he and diplomats from other embassies welcomed home opposition leader Juan Guaido at the Caracas airport.
The government declared Kriener persona non grata and gave him 48 hours to leave the country, accusing him of meddling in internal affairs, although it did not give specific details.
Addressing the National Assembly, Guaido said Maduro’s government is the “persona non grata” in Venezuela.
Separately, Venezuela’s National Press Workers Union said on Twitter that American journalist Cody Weddle was arrested at his home on Wednesday by military counterintelligence agents. Espacio Publico, a free speech group, said he had been accused of treachery and that the agents took his computer and equipment.
US to punish foreign entities funding Maduro
The United States will impose sanctions on foreign institutions helping to finance President Maduro, the White House said on Wednesday.
The measure was announced by President Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton.
“The United States is putting foreign financial institutions on notice that they will face sanctions for being involved in facilitating illegitimate transactions that benefit Nicolas Maduro and his corrupt network,” Bolton said in a statement.
Venezuela crisis worsened by sanctions, UN says Sanctions have worsened Venezuela’s crippling economic and political crisis, the UN human rights chief said.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said sanctions had exacerbated the crisis but also slammed Maduro’s “violations of civil and political rights” in her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“Venezuela clearly illustrates the way violations of civil and political rights – including failure to uphold fundamental freedoms, and the independence of key institutions – can accentuate a decline of economic and social rights,” said former Chile president Bachelet.
Tuesday, March 5
Maduro says he will defeat opposition
Maduro said he would defeat a “crazed minority” determined to destabilise the country in his first public comments since opposition leader Guaido defied him by returning home on Monday.
Maduro, during a ceremony to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the death of his predecessor Hugo Chavez, called on supporters to attend “anti-imperialist” demonstrations on March 9, coinciding with an opposition march announced by Guaido.
Guaido vows to paralyse public sector to squeeze Maduro
Guaido held talks with Venezuela’s public sector unions on Tuesday about staging strikes to help bring down the government.
The strikes would ratchet up pressure on a weakened Maduro by giving several million state employees, a traditional bastion of government support, a chance to demonstrate their frustration with an administration that has overseen Venezuela’s deepest ever economic crisis.
The opposition is also seeking to capitalise on momentum spurred by Guaido’s triumphant return to Venezuela on Monday to press for an end to Maduro’s rule.
Monday, March 4
Guaido returns home, calls for fresh protests
Guaido defied the threat of arrest to return home on Monday, arriving at Caracas international airport where he was met by cheering supporters, television footage showed.
Flag-waving Venezuelans turned out to await the return of opposition leader who embarks on a renewed push against embattled President Maduro.
“We know the risks we face, that’s never stopped us. The regime, the dictatorship must understand,” Guaido told a delirious crowd.
“We’re stronger than ever, let’s carry on in the streets, mobilised,” he said.
Guaido called on people to flood the streets of cities across the country on Saturday [March 9] to protest Maduro’s hold on power.
Earlier, in a video shared on social networks, Guaido warned that if Maduro’s government “tries to kidnap us … it will be one of the last mistakes it makes.”
The self-declared acting president added on Twitter that should he be detained, he has left “clear instructions to our international allies and parliamentary brothers.”
Also on Monday, US warned of “swift response” to any “threats” against Guaido.
Sunday, March 3
‘Mobilise all over the country’ – Guaido
Venezuela’s opposition leader called for mass protests across the country on Monday as he announced his return to the country after a week touring Latin American allies.
“I’m announcing my return to the country. I am calling on the Venezuelan people to mobilise all over the country tomorrow at 11:00 am (1500 GMT),” Guaido said on Twitter.
Guaido, who has been recognised by more than 50 countries as interim president, gave no details of when or how he would return, however.
Russia vows to prevent US military intervention
Russia will do all possible to prevent a US military intervention in Venezuela, the TASS news agency quoted the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament as saying on Sunday.
“We are very much concerned that the USA could carry out any provocations to shed blood, to find a cause and reasons for an intervention in Venezuela,” Valentina Matvienko told Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez in Moscow.
“But we will do all in order not to allow this,” said Matvienko, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.
Saturday, March 2
Guaido to return home after Ecuador visit
Guaido said he would return to Venezuela from Ecuador, where he was meeting with President Lenin Moreno during a tour of Latin American nations to muster support.
Guaido told reporters that he was calling for new protests on Monday and Tuesday in Venezuela. He did not say when or how he planned to return.
Venezuela’s education system crumbles
Venezuela’s economic crisis has impacted the entire economy, particularly health and education.
Many schools across the country don’t have food or running water. And with low salaries, it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep teachers employed.
Homosexuality is still illegal in nearly 40% of countries in the United Nations, while being gay is punishable by death in a number of US-allied countries, such as Saudi Arabia.
Donald Trump appeared unaware of his own administration’s plans to push for global decriminalization of homosexuality.
When asked about it by a reporter on Wednesday, Trump said: “I don’t know which report you’re talking about. We have many reports.”
NBC News reported the White House’s plans to campaign for a change in laws in dozens of countries where it is illegal to be gay.
LGBT activists have expressed skepticism of the campaign in light of Trump’s policies in the US, which have appeared to be anti-LGBT.
AIWA! NO!|US President Donald Trump seemed unaware of his own administration’s plans to end the criminalization of homosexuality around the world when asked about it on Wednesday.
Following reports that the Trump administration will launch a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality, a reporter asked Trump in the Oval Office: “Mr. President, on your push to decriminalize homosexuality, are you doing that? And why?”Trump asked the reporter to repeat the question, and then said: “I don’t know which report you’re talking about. We have many reports.”
NBC News reported on Tuesday that the Trump White House would campaign for a change in laws in dozens of countries where it is illegal to be gay, citing administration officials.
The campaign is aimed in part at denouncing Iran’s human rights record, NBC News said.
Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, who is openly gay, plans to lead the campaign and discussed the effort with a dozen LGBTQ activists from around Europe at a dinner in Berlin on Tuesday night, The New York Times reported.
But the Times noted that the State Department in Washington has not announced a new global campaign, making it unclear how official or powerful the ambassador’s plan is, or how it differs from current US policy.In an interview with NBC News, Grenell said that the effort would be much broader than putting pressure on Iran. “This is not just about Iran,” he said. “This is about 71 countries, and Iran is one of them.”
Homosexuality is still illegal in nearly 40% of countries in the United Nations, while being gay is punishable by death in a number of US-allied countries, such as Saudi Arabia. It is not clear how much pressure the US would put on these allies.
Grenell said that the Trump administration has the backing of Republicans to lead the efforts.
LGBT activists have expressed skepticism of the campaign in light of Trump’s policies in the US.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) told NBC News: “We’d believe that the Trump administration will work to protect LGBTQ people around the world if they had not attacked LGBTQ people in the US over 90 times since taking office.”
While he campaigned on a platform of helping LGBT people, Trump has faced widespread criticism for moves like banning transgender service people from the military and for promoting anti-LGBT figures to key posts in his administration.
Stuart Milk, an LGBT activist and nephew of civil rights leader Harvey Milk, who was at Grenell’s dinner in Berlin, told NBC News that he would support any campaign for decriminalization but noted that it is “unique” to have a right-leaning administration “leading the charge on an issue that does make a difference in people’s lives.”
“My criticism of the Trump administration has been steady,” Milk said. “I have actually said that policies coming out of the White House and statements have been life-negating, not just for LGBT people but for many, many communities.”
“But when any administration does something right, we’re going to be there.”