- Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have resigned from Theresa May’s government.
- Both opposed her Brexit strategy of seeking as close as trade relationship with the EU as possible without accepting free movement of EU nationals. Read more
British ministers are due to meet at the prime minister’s Chequers country retreat this weekend to hammer out a Brexit strategy.
The conclave is unlikely to produce a breakthrough. The EU hasn’t budged from its position. Neither have hardliners in Theresa May’s government. Read more
In local elections on Thursday, both of Britain’s major parties did just well enough to keep criticism about their leaders at bay without doing well enough to silence it altogether. Read more
British home secretary Amber Rudd has resigned for misleading lawmakers about her migration policy.
She told Parliament there was no Home Office target for deportations, but then The Guardian revealed she had written to Prime Minister Theresa May about her aim to increase “enforced removals” by 10 percent.
Politico reports that Rudd’s departure — the fourth by a cabinet minister in six months — risks destabilizing May’s government at a time when it is negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union. Rudd was one of the leading pro-EU Conservatives and seen as a potential future party leader.
The scandal also shines a spotlight on May’s failure to develop a new immigration policy almost two years after the Brexit referendum in which it played such a major role. Read more
The EU has rejected British proposals for avoiding a hard border in Ulster, with a source telling The Telegraph, “It was a detailed and forensic rebuttal… It was made clear that none of the UK’s customs options will work. None of them.”
Keep in mind that The Telegraph is a right-wing, pro-Brexit newspaper, so its sources may be attempting to put pressure on EU negotiators.
According to the report, the EU rejected:
- A “customs partnership”, under which British would collect EU tariffs on goods destined for EU markets, as needlessly complex; and
- A “highly streamlined customs arrangement” as effectively “turning a blind eye” to goods coming from non-EU countries.
The United Kingdom has committed to keeping Northern Ireland in full regulatory alignment with the EU in order to avoid a border with Ireland. The easiest way to accomplish that would be to keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs unions, however, that is unacceptable to hardline unionists in Theresa May’s government. Read more
Britain, France and the United States attacked three targets in Syria last night in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack by Bashar al-Assad:
- A scientific research center in the Damascus area.
- A chemical weapons storage site west of Homs, which Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said was “the primary location of Syrian sarin … production equipment.”
- A chemical weapons equipment storage facility and command post close to the second target.
American defense secretary James Mattis called Friday’s attack a “one-time shot” and emphasized that the strikes weren’t aimed at Assad’s protector, Russia.
President Donald Trump, however, singled out Iran and Russia for their support of Assad.
“What kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?” he asked. “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.” Read more
The United Kingdom has agreed to remain part of the European single market during the transition period following its departure from the bloc on March 29, 2019.
For the next year and a half, goods, services, capital and people would continue to move freely in and out of the United Kingdom. However, London will no longer have a say in the making of EU rules, including fishing quotas.
Other parts of the transition agreement include:
- Britain will be allowed to negotiate and sign trade deals that go into effect after December 31, 2020.
- Short of an innovative solution, Northern Ireland will continue to live under EU regulations, avoiding the need for a hard border in Ulster but creating the need for one between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Hardliners in Britain are appalled by the concessions. Read more