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Sunday / April 21.

Austria arrests Iraqi over German train attacks


LONDON: Britain’s splintered parliament holds a flurry of votes on Wednesday seeking a last-minute new Brexit plan in place of Prime Minister Theresa May’s deeply unpopular deal.
Three years of political turmoil that followed Britain’s decision to break its near half-century bond with the European Union were meant to have ended on Friday with the formal completion of the divorce.
But no clear end is in sight and May finds herself under unrelenting pressure from both inside and outside her own party to resign.
Lawmakers have twice resoundingly rejected the agreement she concluded with Brussels over 17 months of acrimonious talks.
House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said “there’s a real possibility” that May will try again on Thursday or Friday.
But Speaker John Bercow reminded May that he already scuppered her plan to hold a third vote last week because she was effectively bringing back the same rejected text.
“I do expect the government to meet the test of change,” Bercow told the chamber.
“They should not seek to circumvent my ruling.”
EU leaders have given Britain an extended deadline of April 12 to either salvage May’s deal or find a better way.
Failure to do either could result in the sides splitting without a plan forward — a scenario that frightens the markets and business on both sides of the Channel.
If parliament does adopt May’s deal, Britain is headed for the exit door on May 22.
Britain could otherwise seek an even longer extension that puts it in the odd situation of having to take part in European Parliament elections nearly two months after it was supposed to have left.
“Either listen and change course or go,” opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn told May in parliament.
“Which is it to be?”
Parliament has decided to try to resolve the crisis by giving itself the right to choose from a variety of alternatives to May’s plan.
It will vote at 1900 GMT on eight options that range from a second referendum to recalling the EU withdrawal notice or leaving under much closer economic terms.
Time has been set aside on Monday for MPs to try and whittle down the most popular options to a final plan.
But the motions are non-binding and it will be tough for parliament to force May to back any proposal with which she disagrees.
House leader Leadsom warned that a lot of parliament’s proposals “are just undeliverable”.
May will hope none of the alternatives earn majority support and that her own agreement ends up looking like the best option.
Her government is also banking on anti-EU rebels getting frightened by the prospect of Brexit being either overturned or watered down.
She has already won the backing of Jacob Rees-Mogg — the ultra-conservative who heads the European Research Group (ERG) wing of her party that twice voted against the deal.
“I think we’ve got to the point where legally leaving is better than not leaving at all,” he told BBC radio on Wednesday.
But the small Northern Irish party whose backing May relies on in parliament said on Tuesday it would rather see Brexit extended by a year than support her deal.
Other holdouts are making their votes contingent on May’s promise to step down and let another leader negotiate the next stage of the process.
“If the prime minister announces a timetable of departure, I think that’s going to swing a lot of people behind her deal, we could get it over the line,” said Conservative MP Nigel Evans.
European leaders are watching the entire process with concern.
European Council President Donald Tusk urged EU lawmakers on Wednesday to remain open to a long postponement while Britain rethinks its stance.
“I said that we should be open to a long extension if the UK wishes to rethink its Brexit strategy, which would of course mean the UK’s participation in the European Parliament elections,” Tusk said.
He also pointed to the nearly six million signatures on an online petition in the past week asking the government to cancel Brexit.
“They may not feel sufficiently represented by UK Parliament but they must feel represented by you,” he told European Parliament members in a tweet.



via AN