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RAMALLAH, June 24, 2018 (MENA) - Palestine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates welcomed Britain's stance which asserts that Al Quds (East Jerusalem) is part and parcel of Palestine.

The ministry praised Britain's insistence that a visit of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, to Palestine is to include Al Quds.

In a press statement on Sunday, the ministry expressed appreciation of the British stance and renewed rejection of the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocation of its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

LONDON, June 24, 2018 (News Wires) - Pro-Brexit politicians and business figures have urged British Prime Minister Theresa May to be ready to walk away from the European Union without a trade agreement, despite warnings from major manufacturers that a "no deal" Brexit would be an economic disaster.

In an open letter, 60 lawmakers, economists and business chiefs accused the EU of being "intransigent" in divorce talks and said Britain should threaten to withhold the 39 billion pound ($52 billion) divorce bill it has already agreed to pay.

The letter released Sunday by Economists for Free Trade was signed by prominent supporters of a "hard Brexit," including ex-UK Treasury chief Nigel Lawson, Conservative lawmakers John Redwood and Peter Bone, and Tim Martin, chairman of the Wetherspoons pub chain.

They urged U.K. authorities "to accelerate their preparations for 'no deal' and a move to a World Trade Deal under WTO rules."

That would mean tariffs and other trade barriers between Britain and the EU, and many businesses say it would severely harm the UK economy. Airbus, Siemens and BMW have all warned recently that leaving the EU without a free-trade deal would hurt British businesses and cost jobs. Airbus alone employs nearly 14,000 workers in the UK.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the warnings from businesses were "inappropriate" and undermined chances of getting a "clean Brexit."

"The more that we undermine Theresa May, the more likely we are to end up with 'a fudge,' which would be an absolute disaster for everyone," he told the BBC.

May's Conservative government is divided between Brexit-backing ministers calling for a clean break so that Britain can strike new trade deals around the world, and those who want to stay closely aligned to the EU, Britain's biggest trading partner.

Hunt urged people to unite behind the prime minister, saying she would mix "cautious pragmatism" with a determination to fulfil voters' decision to leave the EU.

LONDON, June 24, 2018 (News Wires) - A British minister accused Airbus and other major companies of issuing "completely inappropriate" threats and undermining Prime Minister Theresa May in a sign of growing tensions with businesses leaders over Brexit.

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus last week issued its strongest warning over the impact of Britain's departure from the European Union, saying a withdrawal without a deal would force it to reconsider its long-term position and put thousands of British jobs at risk.

Other European companies with major operations in Britain have also started to speak out two years on from the Brexit vote, voicing concerns over a lack of clarity on the terms of trade when Britain leaves next March.

"It was completely inappropriate for businesses to be making these kinds of threats for one very simple reason - we are in an absolutely critical moment in the Brexit discussions and what that means is that we need to get behind Theresa May," Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC.

"The more that we undermine Theresa May the more likely we to end up with a fudge which will be absolute disaster for everyone," he added.

German carmaker BMW has warned the company would have to make contingency plans within months if the government did not soon clarify its post-Brexit position and German industrial group Siemens said it urgently needs clarity on how its operations would have to be organised.

The leaders of five major business lobby groups also warned the prime minister over the weekend that the ongoing uncertainty about Brexit could cost the economy billions of pounds.

Hunt, a senior figure in the government who is viewed as a potential future prime minister, dismissed "siren voices" who say Brexit negotiations are not going well and said people should ignore them.

With only nine months until Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, little is clear about how trade will flow as May, who is grappling with a divided party, is still trying to strike a deal with the bloc.

Business leaders are increasingly concerned that their concerns are being ignored and are stepping up their contingency plans in case Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal.

The foreign minister Boris Johnson was quoted in the Telegraph newspaper by two sources over the weekend as dismissing business leaders' concerns about the impact of Brexit, using foul language in a meeting with EU diplomats.

A spokesperson for the foreign office disputed whether Johnson had used bad language and said he had been attacking business lobbyists.

Around 100,000 supporters of the EU marched through central London on Saturday to demand that the government hold a final public vote on the terms of Brexit, organisers said.

 

LONDON, June 24, 2018 (News Wires) — Pro-Brexit politicians and business figures are urging British Prime Minister Theresa May to be ready to walk away from the European Union without a trade agreement, despite warnings from major manufacturers that a "no deal" Brexit would be an economic disaster.

In an open letter, 60 lawmakers, economists and business chiefs say Britain should threaten to withhold the 39 billion pound ($52 billion) divorce bill it has already agreed to pay.

The letter released on Sunday by Economists for Free Trade urges UK authorities "to accelerate their preparations for 'no deal' and a move to a World Trade Deal under WTO rules."

That would mean trade barriers between Britain and the EU.

Still, Airbus, Siemens and BMW have all warned that leaving the EU without a free-trade deal would hurt British businesses and jobs.

LONDON, June 23, 2018 (News Wires) - Leading Brexit supporters talked tough and their opponents took to the streets, as a divided UK marked the second anniversary on Saturday of its vote to leave the European Union.

Britain voted on June 23, 2016 to quit the 28-nation EU, and its official exit is slated for March 29, 2019. But the country - and its Conservative government - remain divided about what kind of economic relationship it wants with the EU after Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May's Cabinet is split, with Brexit-backing ministers such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson calling for a clean break so that Britain can strike new trade deals around the world. Others, including Treasury chief Philip Hammond, want to keep closely aligned to the bloc, Britain's biggest trading partner.

In an article for The Sun newspaper on Saturday, Johnson urged May to deliver a "full British Brexit," rather than one he compared to a roll of toilet paper - "soft, yielding and seemingly infinitely long."

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC that the EU needed to understand that Britain was willing to walk away from talks without agreement if necessary, because "no deal would be better than a bad deal."

EU leaders are growing frustrated with what they see as a lack of firm proposals from the UK about future relations. A paper setting out the UK government position on future relations, due to be published this month, has been delayed until July because the Cabinet cannot agree on a united stance.

Many businesses warn that failure to reach a free-trade agreement between Britain and the EU would be disastrous. European plane-maker Airbus warned Friday that it could leave Britain - where it employs about 14,000 people - if the country exits the EU without an agreement on future trading relations.

Katherine Bennett, the company's senior vice president in the UK, said "a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic."

Meanwhile, thousands of opponents of Brexit planned to rally outside Parliament on Saturday, calling for a referendum on any divorce deal agreed between Britain and the EU.

Both the Conservatives and main opposition Labour Party oppose another referendum, but the centrist Liberal Democrats support one.

The party said leader Vince Cable would tell the crowd that "Brexit is not a done deal. Brexit is not inevitable. Brexit can be stopped."

 

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.

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