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LONDON, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - It's been two years since the shoppers and traders of London's Romford market voted by a wide margin for their country to leave the European Union. Enthusiasm for Brexit in this working-class district on the British capital's eastern edge hasn't dimmed. But with Britain still not out the EU exit door and negotiations slowed to a crawl, impatience is growing.

"I think most people are just fed up," said fishmonger Dave Crosbie. "It seems that you take two steps forward and all of a sudden you've got to take a step back."

A mere 20 miles (32 kilometers) away in the center of London - yet on the other side of the Brexit divide - Tahmid Chowdhury also worries about the way things are going.

The law graduate was surprised and disappointed when Britain voted by a margin of 52 to 48 percent to leave the EU on June 23, 2016. It was unwelcome evidence that the pro-European views of his London friends and acquaintances were not universally shared.

"The problem with the referendum is it divided people - divided families, divided communities - just because of the hostile nature of how the arguments were made," he said.

The divisions opened up by the referendum have not healed but hardened. Once, many Britons would have defined themselves as right-wing or left-wing, Conservative or Labour.

Brexit has created two new and mutually uncomprehending camps in Britain: leavers and remainers.

Leavers - concentrated in small towns and post-industrial cities across England - are eager to cut Brussels red tape, reassert British sovereignty and take control of immigration. Remainers, who most often live in big cities and university towns, would rather stay in an alliance that has eased the flow of goods, services and people across 28 nations with half a billion inhabitants.

Almost the only thing the two groups share is pessimism about the state of Brexit. Asked by pollsters how well Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative-led government is handling negotiations, most Britons reply: "badly."

With just nine months to go until the U.K. is due to leave on March 29, 2019, Britain and the EU have yet to agree the terms of their divorce. There has been no deal on future trade and economic relations, and no firm solution to the problem posed by the Ireland-Northern Ireland border. After Brexit, the currently invisible frontier will be the only land border between an EU nation and the U.K.

Britain and the EU say they want to finalize a deal by October, so that national parliaments across the bloc can approve it by March. But EU officials are impatient with Britain's lack of detailed proposals, and few people believe there will be much progress when leaders meet at an EU summit in Brussels next week.

Public opinion expert John Curtice, a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, said Britons are "deeply critical, deeply dubious, about what Brexit is going to bring."

"That hasn't persuaded, however, most people to change their minds," he said Friday. "This country remains split down the middle on Brexit in exactly the same way as it was two years ago."

Leavers and remainers are at odds over who is to blame for the Brexit impasse. Those on the "leave" side point to Parliament, where members of the House of Commons and House of Lords have attempted to wrest control of the Brexit process from the government in order to soften the terms of departure.

Brexit-supporting newspapers depict Parliament as a nest of traitorous "remainiacs" determined to overturn the popular will. The Sun accused pro-EU lawmakers of a "great betrayal," and the Daily Mail branded judges who ruled against the government "enemies of the people."

Remainers accuse the other side of making promises that will not be met and of stoking divisions by painting immigrants as a problem.

And they say Brexit is already hurting the economy. After the referendum, the value of the pound plunged. Britain's economic growth is now the slowest among major industrial economies. Manufacturers and exporters wonder whether they will face tariffs or other barriers to trade after Brexit.

Aviation giant Airbus threatened Friday to leave Britain - where it employs about 14,000 people - if the country exits the EU without an agreement on future trading relations.

But economic arguments have done little to sway opinion on Brexit, said Anand Menon of the U.K. in a Changing Europe think-tank.

"Your perception of the economy is dominated by whether you think we should leave the European Union or not," he said. "Remainers think the economy has been doing really badly in the last two years. Leavers think the economy has been absolutely fine."

There's certainly little voter's remorse at Romford's street market, where stalls sell meat, fish, household goods, clothing and piles of red-and-white flags for England fans to wave during the soccer World Cup.

London - the most diverse place in Britain and hub of its huge financial sector - voted 60-40 in favor of staying in the EU. But in Havering, the London borough that contains Romford, 70 percent opted to leave.

LONDON, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - Britain is confident of getting a good trade agreement with the European Union when it leaves the bloc which will include the aerospace sector, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokeswoman said after Airbus warned of the impact of a no-deal withdrawal.

Airbus said late on Thursday that leaving the EU without a deal in place would force it to reconsider its long-term position and put thousands of British jobs at risk.

"We are confident that we are going to get a good deal, one that ensures that trade is as free and frictionless as possible, including for the aerospace sector," May's spokeswoman said on Friday.

 

LONDON, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - UK prosecutors say on Tuesday that an Islamic State adherent plotted a suicide bombing targeting British Prime Minister Theresa May at her Downing Street office in London.

Authorities say Naa'imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, thought he was just days away from carrying out the attack before his arrest last November. He was snared in a social media sting by an undercover operative for Britain's security services posing as an Islamic State official in Syria

Prosecutor Mark Heywood told jurors at London's Central Criminal Court that Rahman intended to inflict violence "at the very heart of the United Kingdom government."

Heywood says Rahman's objective was "a suicide attack, by blade and explosion, on Downing Street and, if he could, upon the Prime Minister Theresa May herself."

Rahman has denied two counts of preparing terrorist acts.

 

CAIRO, June 19, 2018 (MENA) - Egypt's Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar will receive on June 24 a high-level delegation from key British universities for talks on means of fostering cooperation in the educational domain.

During a four-day visit, the delegation will seek to stand on the Egyptian programme of higher education and scientific research as well as the investment potential in the educational field in Egypt, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The meeting will address educational plans under "Egypt Vision 2030" and how British universities can contribute to supporting higher education in Egypt.

A press conference will be held to highlight the outcome of the talks.

LONDON, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - E.ON, the world's largest investor-owned power and gas company, will raise prices for British customers taking both gas and electricity by 4.8 per cent from Aug. 16, the German utility said on Tuesday, the last of the "big six" energy suppliers to increase its tariffs.

The move follows similar increases announced this year by the other five big suppliers in the country, and comes as regulator Ofgem is working to set a cap on standard prices by the end of the year.

The British government has asked Ofgem to put the price cap on to combat what it has called "rip off" energy prices.

Utilities have denied overcharging, but the Competition and Markets Authority found they had overcharged some British households a total of 1.4 billion pounds ($1.75 billion) a year on average from 2012 to 2015, prompting the government to act.

E.ON said the increase was needed "due to the significant rise in the cost of wholesale energy, and in common with similar pressures faced by a number of other suppliers of all sizes across the industry over recent months."

It said wholesale energy costs have increased more than 20 percent since March, largely due to the impact of extremely cold temperatures earlier this year depleting European gas storage.

E.ON said the latest rise equated to an average extra cost of 55 pounds per year per customer, and it had not increased its standard gas and electricity unit prices since April 2017.

However, earlier this year it changed the way it structured bills including scrapping discounts for people who take both gas and electricity from the company and for those who opt for paperless billing, which added around 22 pounds per year to average bills.

Britain's big six energy suppliers, controlling around 80 percent of the market are Centrica's British Gas, SSE , E.ON, EDF Energy, Innogy's Npower and Iberdrola's Scottish Power.

 

LONDON, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Three people have died after being struck by a train in south London, British Transport Police said on Monday.

Police said they were trying to determine details about the deaths at the Loughborough Junction station, on a busy commuter line into the city center. Police said the three were pronounced dead at the scene.

Detective Superintendent Gary Richard his team was "now working hard to understand what happened and how these three people came to lose their life on the railway."

He said the deaths are being treated as "unexplained." The bodies were found at about 7:30 a.m. Monday near the start of the morning rush hour.

Police asked anyone who was in the area and observed something that might be related to the deaths to contact them immediately.

Transport police were on the scene working to identify the victims and notify their families.

Train services in the area were being delayed during the investigation.

 

 

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