Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

Britain Confident of Making Progress in Brexit Talks by October

August 17, 2017

By REUTERS

AUG. 17, 2017, 4:15 A.M. E.D.T.

LONDON — Britain is confident it will make “sufficient progress” in negotiations with the European Union by October to move on to the next phase of the talks and discuss future ties with the bloc, the government said on Thursday.

After a slow start to negotiations to unravel more than 40 years of union, Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is keen for the discussion to move beyond the EU’s focus on a divorce settlement to consider how a new relationship could work.

But the bloc has repeated that before there is “sufficient progress” in the first stage of talks on the rights of expatriates, Britain’s border with EU member Ireland and a financial settlement, officials cannot consider future ties.

Last month, the EU’s top Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told ambassadors from the 27 countries that will remain in the bloc that talks on future ties were less likely to start in October.

“Government officials are working at pace and we are confident we will have made sufficient progress by October to advance the talks to the next phase,” a spokeswoman for the Department for Exiting the European Union said in a statement.

“As the Secretary of State (Brexit minister David Davis) has said, it is important that both sides demonstrate a dynamic and flexible approach to each round of the negotiations.”

The British side is understood to believe that progress has been made during four days of talks, despite bleating from EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (pictured right with David Davis in Brussels today) about a lack of 'clarity' on the UK's position

On Wednesday, unidentified sources were quoted by Britain’s Sky News as saying the two sides might have to delay talks on their post-Brexit relationship until December because they would not make the progress required by the EU.

Britain published proposals for the border between Ireland and the province of Northern Ireland on Wednesday, saying there should be no border posts or immigration checks to avoid a return to a ‘hard border’.

It was aimed at tackling one of the most difficult aspects of the talks and was welcomed by the Irish government.

But perhaps a more tricky part of the talks is how much Britain should pay the EU when it leaves in March 2019. While saying it will meet its responsibilities on the so-called Brexit bill, Britain has also questioned some suggestions from the EU that it must pay around 60 billion euros.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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UK to seek Irish border waivers on customs and food safety after Brexit

Britain reveals plan to ask for exemptions for all small traders and farmers as it pursues goal of avoiding EU border posts

Traffic crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the village of Bridgend, Co Donegal.
 Traffic crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in Bridgend, Co Donegal. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Britain will seek a series of waivers for goods and people crossing the Northern Ireland border under new plans that risk creating a “back door” with the European Union after Brexit.

The government aims to avoid the need for border posts with Ireland when the UK leaves the EU, an ambitious goal seen as essential to preserving the Good Friday peace agreement.

“The UK and Ireland have been clear all along that we need to prioritise protecting the Belfast agreement in these negotiations, and ensure the land border is as seamless as possible for people and businesses,” said David Davis, the UK’s Brexit secretary.

Details of the plan unveiled by Whitehall officials have, however, sparked a series of difficult questions about what the knock-on impact of having no border may be for wider EU-UK relation

 

The issue of the Irish border is a priority for the next round of Brexit talks, due to resume in two weeks. However, some senior government figures now concede privately that the talks may not move on to the substantive issue of Britain’s future relationship with the European Union until December, cutting the time left for complex discussions before the two-year article 50 deadline.

One cabinet minister with knowledge of the negotiations told the Guardian on Wednesday it is “impossible to know” whether they will succeed in tying up initial questions, including the withdrawal bill, by October, as they had previously hoped.

When the talks do resume, Britain will ask for an exemption for all small traders and farmers from a host of customs, agricultural and food safety checks. In return, it aims to seek “regulatory equivalence” with the EU to try to avoid the need for inspections of live animals and billions of pounds worth of goods.

Officials refuse to speculate what consequences this may have for limiting the scope of trade agreements with non-compliant countries such as the US. Without matching regulations, the EU could block imports, fearing that the open border was a back door into its consumer market.

Similar fears of a back door in the labour market were put to officials when they revealed there would be nothing to stop EU economic migrants travelling through the Republic of Ireland and into the UK under a continuation of the common travel area scheme. The government believes it can limit the impact of any such undocumented immigration through tighter checks on UK work permits.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/aug/16/uk-to-seek-irish-border-waivers-on-customs-and-food-safety-after-brexit

 

Plan Calling For Removal of Philip Hammond Exposed in Brexit Torn UK

August 14, 2017

LONDON — One of the most vocal pro-Brexit campaign groups launched a campaign on Monday to oust finance minister Philip Hammond from parliament, saying he is part of a plot to stop Britain leaving the European Union.

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Philip Hammond

Divisions over Britain’s Brexit strategy have resurfaced after Prime Minister Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority in an ill-judged snap election in June, generating renewed political pressure from some quarters for a softer exit.

Hammond has led calls for a multi-year, staggered break from the EU in the name of protecting the British economy, much to the annoyance of some Brexiteers who want a more decisive divorce when Britain’s membership ends in March 2019.

That has put Hammond in the crosshairs of campaign group Leave.EU, whose grassroots organization helped bring about last year’s referendum vote to leave the bloc.

“He is part of a cabal of Westminster MPs (Members of Parliament) who believe that if they can delay exit, they can overturn the wishes of the 52 percent who despite threats from the political classes drew upon the courage of their conviction at the ballot box,” said Leave.EU Chairman Arron Banks in a letter to voters in Hammond’s constituency.

There is no automatic means for voters to get rid of their local member of parliament outside of an election period, and Britain is not scheduled to hold another vote until 2022.

But Leave.EU called on their supporters to pressure the local Conservative Party not to select him as their candidate at the next election. The group has also targeted interior minister Amber Rudd, who only won her seat by a slim majority in June.

There was no immediate comment available from the Treasury or Hammond’s local office.

Many pro-Brexit voters sense the government is going soft on the decision to leave the EU. They reject calls for a lengthy transition period and demand that tighter immigration controls are brought in as soon as possible.

“Time for the people to strike back and remind the elite of the referendum,” Leave.EU said in a statement.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Michael Holden)

Surge in North Koreans Slipping Into Thailand: Immigration — Human Rights groups try to assist

August 1, 2017

BANGKOK — The number of North Koreans slipping illegally into Thailand has surged in recent months, according to immigration bureau officials, as tensions mount on the Korean peninsula because of Pyongyang’s weapons programs.

Thailand is on a popular transit route for North Koreans defecting from the impoverished communist state. Hundreds flee each year to China and make it to Thailand after an overland journey, from where they are usually sent on to South Korea.

In 2016, there were 535 North Korean arrivals in Thailand, but the first six months of this year saw 385 arrivals, according to data from Thailand’s immigration bureau seen by Reuters, and more are arriving each week.

For graphic on North Korea defectors click: http://tmsnrt.rs/2hjBwnd

“An average of 20 to 30 North Koreans arrive each week now in northern Thailand alone,” said an immigration official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

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North Koreans arrested for illegal entry into Thailand — But many enter legally

The surge has come despite tighter controls by North Korea on its border with China. It coincides with rising tensions on the Korean peninsula over Pyongyang’s stepped up nuclear and missile tests and warnings by the United States that it was losing patience with the isolated state.

However, Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, a Seoul-based NGO, said the number of   North Korean defectors coming to South Korea had not increased this year, implying that those coming through Thailand could be making up a higher proportion of the total.

The South’s Unification Ministry said 593 North Korean defectors had come to the South in the first six months, against 1,418 last year and 1,275 in 2015.

Most North Koreans enter Thailand at its northernmost tip, near the Golden Triangle, from neighboring Laos, the Thai immigration officials said, but new routes had also emerged further south.

“We have seen many North Koreans entering the country in several northeastern provinces along the Mekong River in the last few years,” said Captain Chonlathai Rattanaruang, a commander of the Mekong River Navy patrol.

Another officer confirmed the trend. He told Reuters that groups of North Koreans have been entering Thailand through northeastern provinces bordering Laos including Nong Khai and Nakhon Phanom, where the Mekong forms the international frontier.

UNOFFICIAL UNDERSTANDING

Officially, Thailand treats North Koreans who enter the country as illegal migrants rather than refugees.

Thailand has not signed the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees and has no specific law on refugees.

Unofficially, arrangements are often made between Thai authorities, the South Korean government, and defectors on the ground.

“The North Koreans come to Thailand to get arrested so they will get an asylum to South Korea,” said Roongroj Tannawut, a district official of Chiang Khong district near the Golden Triangle.

North Korean defectors who enter Thailand are arrested and prosecuted for illegal entry.

They are then transferred to an immigration detention center in Bangkok before being deported, usually to South Korea.

“Since the South Korean constitution recognizes all Koreans as its citizens, it is possible for Thailand to recognize South Korea as a legitimate destination to deport North Koreans,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, told Reuters.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees rarely processes North Korean defectors in Thailand because of the arrangement between Thailand and South Korea.

“People fleeing North Korea don’t usually approach UNHCR offices as they have other ways of seeking safety,” Vivian Tan, spokeswoman for UNHCR Asia, told Reuters.

The South Korean Embassy in Bangkok declined to comment on their role when contacted.

(Additional reporting by Heekyong Yang in Seoul; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Brexit transition could last until 2022: UK minister

July 28, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Mass immigration from the European Union was a major factor in the June 2016 referendum that saw Britons vote to leave the E

LONDON (AFP) – Britain will try to keep as many aspects of its EU membership in place as possible during a transition period of up to three years after Brexit, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Friday.But Hammond told BBC radio that EU nationals would have to register with the authorities starting from the expected departure date of March 2019 as the government comes up with a new immigration system.

“Many things will look similar” and goods will continue to flow between Britain and the EU in “much the same way as they do now” even after the scheduled departure date of March 2019, he said.

“I think there’s a broad consensus that this process has to be completed by the scheduled time of the next general election which is in June 2022,” he said.

Hammond, who campaigned for Britain to stay in the EU in last year’s referendum but now supports withdrawal, is seen as an advocate of a more moderate “soft Brexit” in contrast to more hardline ministers.

According to the Financial Times newspaper, Hammond unveiled the plan to business leaders earlier this week, arguing there was not enough time to negotiate a “bespoke” deal before the March 2019 deadline.

“He told us the Europeans now agree a cliff edge would harm both parties,” a person present at the meeting told the FT.

But one of the thornier issues yet to be negotiated is the right of EU citizens to travel and settle in Britain.

More than a decade of mass immigration from the bloc under freedom of movement rules was a major factor in the June 2016 referendum that saw Britons vote to leave the EU.

Prime Minister Theresa May has so far insisted that Brexit needs tougher immigration rules, including an end to free movement of EU citizens.

According to Hammond, “Europeans will still be able to come into the UK” during the transition period, “but they will have to register with the authorities so we know who’s coming and who’s going”.

“We’ve been clear that it would be some time before we are able to introduce full migration control between the UK and the EU,” he said.

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But Hammond seemed to get slapped down a bit:

Brexit: UK-EU freedom of movement ‘to end in March 2019’

July 27, 2017

BBC News

Passport control at Gatwick Airport
GETTY IMAGES

A new immigration system will be in place by March 2019 when the free movement of people between the EU and the UK ends, a minister has said.

Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis was speaking as the government commissioned a “detailed assessment” of the costs and benefits of EU migrants.

The report is due to be completed in September 2018 – six months before the UK’s scheduled date for leaving the EU.

Critics said the study had been requested a year too late.

The CBI said businesses “urgently” needed to know what EU migration would look like, both in any “transitional” period after March 2019 and beyond.

Ministers have also promised an “extensive” consultation to listen to the views of businesses, unions and universities.

Immigration was one of the central topics of last year’s EU referendum campaign, and ministers have promised to “take back control” of the UK’s borders as they negotiate Brexit.

An immigration bill, which will reveal the government’s chosen method, was included in last month’s Queen’s Speech.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Lewis would not confirm details of how the government plans to manage migration after Brexit, saying these would be revealed in a white paper later this year, and that the immigration bill would go through Parliament in 2018.

Freedom of movement will end “in the spring of 2019”, immigration minister Brandon Lewis tells Today

Ministers have promised an implementation period after Brexit to avoid a “cliff edge” scenario as the new rules kick in.

Mr Lewis said it was a “simple matter of fact” that EU free movement rules would not apply during this time, and that a new system would be in place by Spring 2019.

He was also pressed on the Conservative manifesto pledge to reduce overall net migration – currently 248,000 – to the tens of thousands.

He confirmed this was party policy but would not set an “arbitrary” year by which this would be achieved.

The Home Office has asked the advisory committee to consider the regional distribution of EU migration, which sectors are most reliant on it, and the role of temporary and seasonal workers.

Costs and benefits

The committee will also study the “economic and social costs and benefits of EU migration to the UK economy”, its impact on competitiveness, and whether there would be benefits to focusing migration on high-skilled jobs.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “We will ensure we continue to attract those who benefit us economically, socially and culturally.

“But, at the same time, our new immigration system will give us control of the volume of people coming here – giving the public confidence we are applying our own rules on who we want to come to the UK and helping us to bring down net migration to sustainable levels.”

Speaking in Sydney, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was unaware of the report that has been commissioned, adding that immigration had been “fantastic for the energy and dynamism of the economy” but “that doesn’t mean that you can’t control it”.

Labour said there should be no changes to the UK’s migration system until the committee’s report had been completed and debated.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “There is far too much heat and not enough light about immigration, so any truly objective and well-informed analysis must be welcome.”

‘First step’

Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey said the move would “do nothing to reassure the hospitals that are already seeing record numbers of EU nurses leaving, or the companies struggling to recruit the staff they need”.

“The NHS, businesses and universities that depend on European citizens need answers now, not in another 14 months’ time,” he added.

The CBI said commissioning the report was a “sensible first step”, adding: “Workers from across Europe strengthen our businesses and help our public services run more smoothly – any new migration system should protect these benefits while restoring public confidence.”

Manufacturers’ organisation EEF said the migration committee was “best placed” to advise on what EU migration should look like after Brexit.

“Many manufacturers will see today’s announcement as a first step, with the government for the first time acknowledging that future migration changes will be implemented in a measured way over a period of years,” it said.

Both EEF and the CBI called for an immediate resolution of the question of the status of EU nationals already living in the UK.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-40734504

Human Rights Watch: French Police Use Excessive Force on Calais Migrants — Used pepper spray on child and adult migrants while they were sleeping

July 26, 2017

PARIS — Human Rights Watch pressed France on Wednesday to end what it described as recurrent police violence against migrants in the northern town of Calais, where hundreds have returned despite the demolition of a sprawling camp once known as “the jungle”.

In a report entitled “Like Living in Hell”, the U.S.-based rights group said police routinely abused migrants in the hope of having them leave the coastal city.

Based on interviews conducted with some 60 migrants in the area, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said police had used pepper spray on child and adult migrants while they were sleeping, regularly sprayed or confiscated sleeping bags and clothing, and sometimes destroyed food and water.

“Such acts violate the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment as well as international standards on police conduct,” HRW said.

“Local and national authorities should immediately and unequivocally direct police to adhere to international standards on the use of force and to refrain from conduct that interferes with aid delivery.”

French police evict thousands of migrants living on sidewalks near the reception center for migrants and refugees at porte de la Chapelle, north of Paris, France, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Regional prefect Fabien Sudry dismissed the report, saying the accusations were unfounded. Police force was used in a proportionate fashion, he said in a statement.

“The prefect stresses that anyone who believes their rights are threatened has the option of referring it to the relevant judicial authorities. To his knowledge, only three complaints against the police have been submitted since the end of 2016.”

Aid agencies and government officials estimate there are now as many as 600 migrants in the northern port area, where a vast shanty town sheltering up to 10,000 was razed by authorities last October.

Calais provides them with a base from which to try to cross illegally to Britain, the destination of choice for many who speak English or already have family or friends in the UK.

“Since they destroyed the Calais camp last year, there is no place to sleep or eat. It’s like living in hell,” HRW quoted a 29-year-old Ethiopian national as saying.

The allegations of police misconduct echo what other migrants and local associations representatives told Reuters last month.

A local court in June ordered authorities to provide drinking water, toilets and showers to migrants and to allow charities to hand out meals. At the same time, it upheld government decisions to deploy extra riot police and not to build a new reception center.

New president Emmanuel Macron last month promised migrants would be treated humanely after France’s human rights watchdog was fiercely critical of the living conditions they face.

(Editing by Ingrid Melander and Mark Trevelyan)

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  (But the ministers are not at work…)

The great Brexit betrayal has begun — Tories have sold out the British people — Nigel Farage

July 26, 2017

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is offering a “tougher line” on free movement than the Government, Nigel Farage has said, as he claimed the Tories had “sold out” their supporters.

In what he described as the “great Brexit betrayal”, the former Ukip leader said those who voted to leave the European Union in last year’s referendum would feel “cheated” by a transitional Brexit deal.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said on Sunday that it was “not a huge deal” if transitional arrangements when Britain quits the EU last up until 2022.

But Mr Farage, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said arguments about the need for a transitional period were a “re-run of an argument advanced by the Remain side last year, which was dramatically rejected by the electorate”.

He said Brexit supporters were “not in denial over immigration” and wrote: “For a nation to rise up against the establishment and secure a historic victory, only to have its hopes thwarted by an out-of-touch elite, is a recipe for dangerous division.

“It is strange to think that Jeremy Corbyn is now offering a tougher line than the Government when he says he would ban the wholesale importation of low-skilled EU workers.

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“Is this a ploy to damage Theresa May, much as the late Labour leader John Smith cynically opposed the Maastricht treaty in 1992?”

Mr Farage said the message on migration from Cabinet ministers had changed since the referendum.

“Although the modern Tory party has a dreadful track record when it comes to immigration, last summer things looked brighter.

“Boris Johnson and Michael Gove even advocated an Australian-style points system. That message undoubtedly helped to secure Brexit.

“Things have now changed.”

He added: “The old alliance of big business and a Tory government is booming again.

“Meanwhile Tory supporters, who have voted loyally in successive elections for manifestos that promise to drastically cut numbers, have been sold out.”

Mr Farage added: “My hopes that this government had learnt the lessons of the referendum, and understood that open-door immigration and its effects matter more to voters than any other issue, have for now evaporated.

“The ‘new consensus’ must be broken.”

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/world/brexit-backers-cheated-by-tories-on-migration–nigel-farage-799429.html

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The great Brexit betrayal has begun. The Tories have sold out the British people – now even Jeremy Corbyn has a tougher stance

The United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis (L), and Michel Barnier (R), the EU's Chief Negotiator 
The government is poised to cheat the British people of the Brexit they voted for CREDIT:EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

 

When I heard that the government minister Lord Prior had told a meeting of tech and insurance leaders last week that they shouldn’t worry about barriers to entry for future employees from the EU, I thought he’d gone too far. How could a Brexit administration elected on a promise of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands tolerate such behaviour? Surely Lord Prior would be sacked?

Instead, it got worse. A new Cabinet consensus around transitional arrangements has been unveiled. Under it, open borders will be maintained for a minimum of two years after we finally leave the EU in 2019. Britain will have to wait until at least 2021 – five years after the Brexit referendum – to take back control.  Millions who voted Leave will feel cheated, and rightly so: it’s clear the great Brexit betrayal has begun.

Although the modern Tory party has a dreadful track record when it comes to immigration,….

Read the rest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/25/great-brexit-betrayal-has-begun-tories-have-sold-british-people/

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Dark blue: EU Schengen members
Light blue: Non-EU Schengen members
Yellow: Obliged to join Schengen eventually
Green: Opt-out from joining Schengen area

See also:

EU leaders to call for revision of Schengen Border Code (From 2015)

http://www.politico.eu/article/eu-leaders-to-call-for-revision-of-schengen-border-code/

Brexit Could Turn Out Differently Than Anyone Thought — “Everything is still to play for.”

July 23, 2017

LONDON (AP) — Lucy Harris thinks Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is a dream come true. Nick Hopkinson thinks it’s a nightmare.

The two Britons — a “leave” supporter and a “remainer” — represent the great divide in a country that stepped into the unknown just over a year ago, when British voters decided by 52 percent to 48 percent to end more than four decades of EU membership.

They are also as uncertain as the rest of the country about what Brexit will look like, and even when it will happen. Since the shock referendum result, work on negotiating the divorce from the EU has slowed to a crawl as the scale and complexity of the challenge becomes clearer.

Harris, founder of the pro-Brexit group Leavers of London, says she is hopeful, rather than confident, that Britain will really cut its ties with the EU.

“If we haven’t finalized it, then anything’s still up for grabs,” she said. “Everything is still to play for.”

She’s not the only Brexiteer, as those who support leaving the EU are called, to be concerned. After an election last month clipped the wings of Britain’s Conservative government, remainers are gaining in confidence.

“Since the general election I’ve been more optimistic that at least we’re headed toward soft Brexit, and hopefully we can reverse Brexit altogether,” said Hopkinson, chairman of pro-EU group London4Europe. “Obviously the government is toughing it out, showing a brave face. But I think its brittle attitude toward Brexit will break and snap.”

Many on both sides of the divide had assumed the picture would be clearer by now. But the road to Brexit has not run smoothly.

First the British government lost a Supreme Court battle over whether a vote in Parliament was needed to begin the Brexit process. Once the vote was held, and won, Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government officially triggered the two-year countdown to exit, starting a race to untangle four decades of intertwined laws and regulations by March 2019.

Then, May called an early election in a bid to strengthen her hand in EU negotiations. Instead, voters stripped May’s Conservatives of their parliamentary majority, severely denting May’s authority — and her ability to hold together a party split between its pro-and anti-EU wings.

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David Davis (left) and Michel Barnier at their news conference in Brussels. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Since the June 8 election, government ministers have been at war, providing the media with a string of disparaging, anonymously sourced stories about one another. Much of the sniping has targeted Treasury chief Philip Hammond, the most senior minister in favor of a compromise “soft Brexit” to cushion the economic shock of leaving the bloc.

The result is a disunited British government and an increasingly impatient EU.

EU officials have slammed British proposals so far as vague and inadequate. The first substantive round of divorce talks in Brussels last week failed to produce a breakthrough, as the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said Britain must clarify its positions in key areas.

Barnier said “fundamental” differences remain on one of the biggest issues — the status of 3 million EU citizens living in Britain and 1 million U.K. nationals who reside in other European countries. A British proposal to grant permanent residency to Europeans in the U.K. was dismissed by the European Parliament as insufficient and burdensome.

There’s also a fight looming over the multibillion-euro bill that Britain must pay to meet previous commitments it made as an EU member. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson recently asserted the bloc could “go whistle” if it thought Britain would settle a big exit tab.

“I am not hearing any whistling. Just the clock ticking,” Barnier replied.

EU officials insist there can be no discussion of a future trade deal with Britain until “sufficient progress” has been made on citizens’ rights, the exit bill and the status of the Irish border.

“We don’t seem to be much further on now than we were just after the referendum,” said Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London. “I’m not sure anybody knows just how this is going to go. I’m not sure the government has got its negotiating goals sorted. I’m not sure the EU really knows what (Britain’s goals) are either.

“I think we are going to find it very, very hard to meet this two-year deadline before we crash out.”

The prospect of tumbling out of the bloc — with its frictionless single market in goods and services — and into a world of tariffs and trade barriers has given Britain’s economy the jitters. The pound has lost more than 10 percent of its value against the dollar in the last year, economic growth has slowed and manufacturing output has begun to fall.

Employers’ organization the Confederation of British Industry says the uncertainty is threatening jobs. The group says to ease the pain, Britain should remain in the EU’s single market and customs union during a transitional period after Brexit.

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That idea has support from many lawmakers, both Conservative and Labour, but could bring the wrath of pro-Brexit Conservatives down on the already shaky May government. That could trigger a party leadership challenge or even a new election — and more delays and chaos.

In the meantime, there is little sign the country has heeded May’s repeated calls to unite. A post-referendum spike in hate crimes against Europeans and others has subsided, but across the country families have fought and friendships have been strained over Brexit.

“It has created divisions that just weren’t there,” said Hopkinson, who calls the forces unleashed by Brexit a “nightmare.”

On that, he and Harris agree. Harris set up Leavers of London as a support group after finding her views out of synch with many others in her 20-something age group.

“I was fed up with being called a xenophobe,” she said. “You start this conversation and it gets really bad very quickly.”

She strongly believes Britain will be better off outside the EU. But, she predicts: “We’re in for a bumpy ride, both sides.”

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Follow Jill Lawless on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

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Top Tory Philip Hammond enjoys a rent-free home

UK could accept EU immigration in Brexit transition

July 21, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Dario THUBURN | Around 250,000 EU nationals move to Britain every year — mainly from eastern and southern Europe

LONDON (AFP) – The British government could agree to free movement of people during a Brexit transition period, newspapers reported on Friday in what would be a major reversal of current plans.

The transition period could last between two and four years after Britain leaves the European Union government as expected in 2019, the Times and the Guardian reported, citing anonymous sources.

“If you ask business when they want to see it agreed, they’d say tomorrow,” a senior cabinet source told the Guardian. The Times quoted “a British source close to the negotiations” with Brussels.

Curbing EU immigration was a key argument for the “Leave” campaign in last year’s referendum in which Britain voted to end four decades of EU membership.

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to end the free movement of people as Britain exits the bloc and bring down net migration to “tens of thousands”.

Around 250,000 EU nationals move to Britain every year — mainly from eastern and southern Europe — and a total of around 3.2 million live in the country.

May’s government has been riven by infighting between supporters of a clean cut with the European Union and those who want a “soft” Brexit that would retain much stronger European trading ties.

Granting free movement of people could allow Britain greater access to the European single market even after it has formally left the EU.

The Confederation of British Industry, Britain’s big business lobby, has called for Britain to retain single market access during any transition period.

CBI leader Carolyn Fairbairn was among business leaders who met with May at her Downing Street office on Thursday following complaints from many firms about a lack of clarity in government plans.

May “reiterated that the government’s overarching goal is for a smooth, orderly exit culminating in a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU, with a period of implementation in order to avoid any cliff-edges,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

Francis Martin, head of the British Chambers of Commerce, who also took part in the talks, said a transition period was a priority for business.

“Our research shows clear support among the business community for the UK to reach a comprehensive agreement with the EU, and for a transition period which will prevent firms facing a cliff-edge.

“The prospect of multiple, costly, adjustments to trading conditions is a concern for many, so starting discussions on transition arrangements as soon as possible would go a long way to boost business confidence,” he said.

The EU’s Brexit negotiator urged Britain on Thursday to provide more clarity on key issues after the second round of talks wrapped up in Brussels with “fundamental” differences remaining.

Michel Barnier said after talks with his counterpart David Davis that the two sides were still at odds over Britain’s divorce bill and over the rights of European citizens living in Britain.

Davis, a long-time eurosceptic picked by British Prime Minister Theresa May to lead the negotiations, said the talks were “robust but constructive” but that there was “a lot left to talk about.”

The next round of talks is expected to start on August 28.

by Dario THUBURN
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Trump, Macron to seek common ground during Paris visit

July 12, 2017

The Associated Press and France 24

© Martin Bureau, AFP | US army 1st Division, US air force, US Navy and US Marines, march down the Champs Elysees during a rehearsal of the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 10, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-07-12

U.S. President Donald Trump and France’s Emmanuel Macron may be far apart on climate change and immigration but the two leaders will be looking for common ground on terrorism and defense policy when they meet this week in Paris.

Donald Trump will be the guest of honor at this year’s Bastille Day events — a celebration of French national pride at a time when, according to Macron, “our world has never been so divided.”

The overseas trip comes as Trump is dogged by fresh controversy over his campaign’s connections to Russia. Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday disclosed 2016 emails about his meeting with a Russian lawyer described to him as someone who was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” in the campaign against Hillary Clinton, after being informed by The New York Times that it was going to publish the contents of those emails. The president has maintained that neither he nor members of his campaign colluded with the Russian government ahead of the 2016 election.

Macron, for his part, has come out strongly against Russia’s purported efforts to interfere in elections in the U.S. and across Europe. He has accused Moscow of working against his own campaign in support of his opponent, far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

The visit will gauge whether Trump and France’s new leader can find consensus on any of the critical issues on which they find themselves deeply at odds. After Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord agreement last month, Macron, a staunch advocate of research to combat global warming, beckoned “all responsible citizens,” including American scientists and researchers, to bring their fight against climate change to France.

The president will mark the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I by visiting U.S. troops. White House officials are casting it as a celebration of the U.S.-French military alliance — both then and now.

Trump and Macron are scheduled to hold a joint news conference, during which Trump may face tough questions on the latest revelations about his son’s contacts with a Russian lawyer. The two leaders and their wives will end a busy day of meetings Thursday with a lavish dinner at Jules Verne, at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

In the leadup to what will be Trump’s first official visit to France, the White House chose to highlight areas where the two leaders can collaborate, and said their differences could foster more constructive dialogue.

“Macron and the president have somewhat different views on how to achieve the end goal, but I think the end goal is the same,” Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn said last week.

Macron’s path to the presidency was nearly as unlikely as Trump’s. Rejecting ties with the French mainstream parties that had controlled the government since modern France began, he launched his own political movement just over a year ago and campaigned on pro-business and pro-European policies in direct counter to Le Pen.

“Both of these men were elected as outsiders and neither of them is really tied to their own national political establishments,” said Benjamin Haddad, a Washington-based French political analyst with the Hudson Institute. “That may actually work to their advantage.”

And Macron’s national security pitch hasn’t differed drastically from Trump’s. On Syria, he argues for intervention, saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad is a threat to Syria and the Islamic State group is a threat to France. France has been plagued in recent years by a series of extremist attacks, including one of the deadliest attacks during Bastille Day celebrations last year, when a 19-ton cargo truck deliberately plowed into crowds in Nice, killing more than 80 people.

Macron supports intervention against Syria’s government in response to its use of chemical weapons and could prove an important ally as the Trump administration seeks to increase pressure against Damascus. But in doing so, they’ll need to tackle the issue of Russia’s support for Assad, something Trump has only passively acknowledged.

At age 39, Macron became France’s youngest president when he won a runoff against Le Pen in April. Despite no political experience, he pulled together an overwhelming legislative majority in France’s parliament and recent polls show him with strong public popularity.

For Trump, whose approval ratings at home and abroad have sunk since he took office, experts say leveraging Macron’s popularity could be the president’s best bet to thaw his administration’s image among European allies.

“Macron doesn’t have the same constraints as (Germany’s) Angela Merkel, who is entering an election campaign in which her opponents would love to make it a campaign about Donald Trump,” said Jeffrey Rathke, deputy director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

(AP)