PARIS, September 4, 2018 (News Wires) — The French agriculture minister says the country's navy is ready to intervene to prevent further clashes between French and British fishermen who angrily bumped boats over access to scallop fisheries off the French coast last week.
The minister, Stephane Travert, expressed hope that British and French fishermen will strike a deal to resolve their dispute when they meet on Wednesday for talks.
Speaking on Tuesday to broadcaster CNEWS, Travert said: "We can't continue like this, we can't carry on having clashes like this."
He added that the French navy is ready to intervene if necessary.
About 35 French boats confronted five British ones, sometimes banging hulls, in international waters off the coast of northern France last week, amid tensions over access to scallop fisheries.
BERLIN, August 30, 2018 (News Wires) - The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Thursday the bloc must prepare for a no-deal Brexit, even if its goal was an orderly exit.
The EU needed to be well prepared for everything, Barnier said, telling German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk: “That includes the no-deal scenario.”
He said the issue of the Irish border with Northern Ireland was “the most sensitive point” of the negotiations. Of a solution to the issue, he added: “I think that is possible.”
On Wednesday, Barnier said the EU is prepared to offer Britain an unprecedentedly close relationship after it quits the bloc but would not allow anything that weakened the body’s single market.
He reiterated that point in the Deutschlandfunk interview, saying the EU’s offer of a “unique partnership ... should not be at the expense of what we are.”
With seven months to go until Britain is due to leave the EU, the two sides are yet to reach a divorce deal. Officials increasingly expect an informal October deadline to slip into November.
Britain’s Brexit minister Dominic Raab told lawmakers on Wednesday he was confident that a deal was “within our sights”, although he added that there was “some measure of leeway” on the October timetable.
LONDON, August 19, 2018 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May could face trouble getting her Brexit deal approved by the British parliament before exit day unless she changes her proposals, the head of an influential group of pro-Brexit lawmakers said in an interview published on Sunday.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the European Research Group, a faction within May's Conservative Party, is strongly opposed to the government's so-called Chequers plan for Brexit and favours a clean break with the bloc on March 29 next year.
"If she sticks with Chequers, she will find she has a block of votes against her in the House of Commons," Rees-Mogg, tipped as a possible successor to May, told The Sunday Times newspaper, describing the Chequers proposals as "surrender" to the EU.
"Of course the Eurosceptics in parliament are not in a majority on all issues, but we will inevitably be in a majority on some of them and that will make the legislation extraordinarily difficult if it is based on Chequers."
The Chequers plan would keep Britain in a free trade zone with the EU for manufactured and agricultural goods. But some Brexit supporters have said it would mean parts of the British economy would still be subject to rules set in Brussels.
Both London and Brussels say they want to get a divorce deal at the October 18 EU Council, but diplomats think that target date is too optimistic. If May cannot get a deal by October, an agreement could be reached at the December 13/14 EU Council.
Rees-Mogg said letting it run to December would be "very risky", the newspaper reported, as that would only leave three months to get the deal approved by the British parliament.
That would mean the government "must come forward with a deal that Brexiteers like, because otherwise they might find it's much harder to get through parliament than they think", he was quoted as saying.
Parliament will have two votes: one on the Brexit deal and one on the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill.
May is betting that the fear of a so called "no-deal" scenario will push many Conservative and Labour lawmakers to support a deal, but the numbers are tight. In recent votes, May commanded a majority of around six votes on major Brexit issues.
Britain's Brexit minister Dominic Raab will travel to Brussels on Tuesday in a bid to pick up the pace of talks with the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier, but the government is also stepping up planning for a "no-deal" Brexit.
Rees-Mogg said he believed a "Canada-plus" deal, a free trade pact along the lines of the EU's 2016 agreement with Canada but with deeper ties given Britain's already closer trading links, could command a majority in parliament.
"If the prime minister came to the House of Commons with a Canada-plus style Brexit, people like me would say, 'Yes, that's all right,' and people who are strongly pro-European would say, 'Yes, that's better than leaving on World Trade Organisation terms,'” Rees-Mogg said. "So although that wouldn't be what people might choose, it could command a majority."
MILAN, August 13, 2018 (News Wires) — Italy's transport minister says Britain should take in 141 migrants picked up by a rescue ship that sails under the flag of the British territory of Gibraltar.
Italy continues to refuse port to ships run by humanitarian groups, and Danilo Toninelli said on Monday on Twitter that Britain should take responsibility for the migrants aboard the Aquarius, operated by French humanitarian groups.
Toninelli said the rescue was coordinated by the Libyan coast guard and that the ship was now in Maltese waters.
The French aid groups SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders have called on European nations to identify a close port of safety so the 141 migrants picked up in two rescues on Friday could disembark. Most of the migrants are from Somalia and Eritrea and include 67 unaccompanied minors.
LONDON, August 5, 2018 (News Wires) - Britain is now likely leave the European Union without a deal due to the "intransigence" of the European Union, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told the Sunday Times.
The pro-Brexit minister said that the chances of a no-deal Brexit were now "60-40", laying the blame on EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
"I think the intransigence of the commission is pushing us towards no deal," he said in an interview with the Sunday Times.
"If the EU decides that the theological obsession of the unelected is to take priority over the economic wellbeing of the people of Europe then it's a bureaucrats' Brexit -- not a people's Brexit -- then there is only going to be one outcome."
He said that Barnier had rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's latest plan, agreed by her cabinet, on the grounds that "we have never done it before".
It was therefore up to the EU to "show us one that they can suggest that would be acceptable to us," said Fox.
"It's up to the EU27 to determine whether they want the EU Commission's ideological purity to be maintained at the expense of their real economies."
May met with French President Emmanuel Macron on the Mediterranean coast on Friday to lobby for her Brexit plan, which has divided her government and so far failed to win over EU negotiators.
The prime minister has just a few months before an agreement on Britain's divorce from the European Union -- set for March 29, 2019 -- must be forged in principle ahead of a EU summit in mid-October.
LONDON, July 25, 2018 (News Wires) - Ireland would “absolutely” support Britain if it asked for an extension to the Article 50 timetable for leaving the European Union, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Wednesday.
Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019 after it formally notified the bloc of Britain’s intention to leave the EU by triggering Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty in March 2017.
Coveney said that the timetable for departure could be changed if the EU and Britain agreed to do so. Asked if he would support a British request for an extension, he said: “absolutely”.
“If Britain asks for more time, and if that’s necessary to get to a sensible agreement, well then we would support that,” he told BBC radio.
He said he believed there was still time to do a deal within the current timeline, but that would require an “intensification” of negotiations between London and Brussels.
On Tuesday, Britain’s new Brexit minister Dominic Raab described the UK’s latest proposal as a “real offer”, and suggested that Britain may not move much from the so-called “Chequers” plan, agreed by British Prime Minister Theresa May with at her country residence Chequers.
But Coveney and Germany’s foreign minister have said that while the plan is the basis for a new round of negotiations, Britain needs to move further still.
The Chequers plan has attracted criticism from Eurosceptics in May’s party as well as those who originally wanted to stay in the bloc, and Britain has said it is stepping up preparations for “no-deal”, with Raab also saying food would be stockpiled for that eventuality.
Coveney said on Wednesday he didn’t believe a no deal Brexit would happen, saying Britain and the EU would both suffer.
“We all have an obligation to make sure that does not happen,” he said.
As well as the prospect of a longer timetable for leaving the EU, some have discussed the prospect of the process being reversed altogether.
Campaigners have sought to test the reversibility of Article 50, although a court case brought in Ireland to establish whether Britain could withdraw the notice of its departure unilaterally was dropped last year.