World News

BBC Weather: Thunderstorm and flood warnings across Europe as heavy rain forecast

BBC Weather forecaster Helen Willetts said temperatures will feel more like autumn for some areas in Europe. She claimed the warm weather in the east will begin to cool as a wall of rain brings storms through the new week. This band of rain will also threaten floods for parts of Scandinavia.

Through central Europe temperatures are forecast to fall slightly to the low and mid-20s with more rain and wind expected.

Ms Willetts said: “It feels as if autumn has arrived in the north-west of Europe.

“This weekend they have seen heavy rain, strong winds and the area of low pressure responsible will still be with us on Monday across Scandinavia.

“A real tight squeeze between those isobars so strong winds through the Baltic.”

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The BBC Weather forecaster said chillier air behind this weather front will cause temperatures to drop.

She continued: “There is little chance we will be seeing higher temperatures after how it has been in Scandinavia.

“The rain will be adding to the risk of flooding because of the snowmelt continuing.”

This wall of rain from Scandinavia is forecast to spread southeastwards throughout Europe in the new week.

Ms Willetts continued: “That weather front will push into the hot air which we have further east.

“This will trigger some intense storms so there will be warnings out for the likes of Greece and the Balkans.

“This weather will continue as we go further east through the week.”

South eastern parts of Europe will still see hot temperatures at the beginning of the week, most notably Turkey.

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However, the storms are expected to eventually hit Turkey and the surrounding islands as we head through the week.

On the eastern side of Europe, Spain can expect more warm and dry weather with temperatures just shy of 40 degrees Celsius.

Ms Willetts said: “The heat is rebuilding further west, we have had it already into the 40s last week and we will see similar temperatures.

“Further north and west of Europe the weather continues on a cooler and cloudier note.

“There will be further outbreaks of rain, not necessarily as windy but more rain to come.”

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World News

Emmanuel Macron outrage: Staggering amount French President spent on makeup revealed

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The coronavirus crisis is proving to be a challenging test for many leaders around the globe. While New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been showered with praise for her “master class” response to the pandemic, many have seen their ratings dramatically drop and could soon be fighting for their survival. This is the case for French President Emmanuel Macron, whose popularity has waned compared to that of his outgoing Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe.

In June, Mr Macron’s approval rating dropped to 38 percent from 39 percent a month ago, while Mr Philippe’s approval rating gained four points to 50 percent, according to a poll by Ifop for the Journal Du Dimanche newspaper.

Earlier this month, a BVA survey for RTL and Orange showed that Mr Philippe has been gaining in popularity during the pandemic, with 54 percent of respondents saying they trust him, with just over 38 percent for Mr Macron.

The polls, combined with Mr Philipp’s resignation, renewed speculation that the mayor of the Normandy port of Le Havre could mount a challenge against Mr Macron for the presidency in 2022 — picking up many voters on the centre-right.

As the French leader’s popularity is failing, unearthed reports reveal the staggering amount he spent on makeup in his first three months as President.

According to a 2017 report by Le Point magazine, Mr Macron’s personal makeup artist put in two claims for payment, one for €10,000 (£9,007) and another for €16,000 (£14,412) for doing his makeup during his travels and ahead of press conferences.

The Elysée Palace said in response: “We called in a contractor as a matter of urgency.”

Many Twitter users were shocked and amused by how much money the French leader spent on maintaining his good looks.

One of them joked that with so much money being spent on makeup, he felt like Kim Kardashian had been elected as French president instead of Mr Macron.

The user wrote: “Macron spends €8,700 a month on makeup.

“Kim Kardashian was elected to the Élysée Palace!”

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Another likened Mr Macron’s makeup to “perlimpinpin powder” – a colloquialism for fraudulent “magic” powders and cures that have zero beneficial effect, which could be considered as French analogue of “snake oil.”

Aides said that spending on makeup would have “significantly reduced” in future.

However, they noted that the amount spent was less than under Mr Macron’s predecessors.

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One Elysée official said: “The sum covers various services including press conferences and foreign trips where the person concerned has to travel with him.

“The bill is high but less than his predecessor’s”.

His predecessor, François Hollande, spent €30,000 (£27,002) per quarter on makeup, including the salary of a makeup artist.

In addition, Mr Hollande paid his hairdresser a gross salary of €9,895 (£8,9112) a month.

Nicolas Sarkozy spent slightly less on his makeup than Macron — €8,000 (£7,206) a month.

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Boris on alert as polling guru Curtice says first time in history Scot independence BACKED

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A Panelbase poll revealed 54 percent of Scots would back ‘Yes’ in an independence referendum whilst support for ‘No’ stood at 46 percent. Professor Sir John Curtice who analysed the poll commissioned by The Sunday Times Scotland predicted that the SNP would win 11 seats at Holyrood giving them 74 of 129.

Alongside this, Professor Curtice claimed that the average of the Panelbase polls over the last six months, including the latest, put ‘Yes’ on 51 percent and ‘No’ on 49 percent.

He stressed it was the first time in polling history that ‘Yes’ had been ahead for such a long period.

The poll also found widespread appreciation of Nicola Sturgeon’s handling of the coronavirus crisis with the First Minister’s approval rating at 60 points whilst Boris Johnson’s approval rating on the crisis was at minus 39 points.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Professor Curtice, said: “Never before have the foundations of public support for the Union looked so weak.


“Our latest poll from Panelbase confirms other recent polling that has suggested those who intend to vote ‘yes’ in a second independence referendum have nudged ahead.

“Support for the SNP is also at a record high.

“Panelbase’s polls conducted over the past six months, including today’s, have on average put ‘yes’ on 51 percent and ‘no’ on 49 percent.

“This is the first time in polling history that ‘yes’ has been ahead over such a sustained period.

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“Support for independence is up three points on that recorded on average last year – and six points in 2018.”

Professor Curtice claimed that those who switched from a No to Yes were among people who voted both Remain and Leave in the EU referendum.

He also stressed that the Scottish public appeared to support the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic much more than that of the UK Government.

Keith Brown MSP, deputy leader of the SNP, said the poll shows people in Scotland have confidence in the party to run Scotland.

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Reacting to the poll, he added: “This out-of-touch Tory government exemplifies the very worst of the Union, and Boris Johnson may be the best recruiting tool for Scottish independence since Margaret Thatcher.

“The majority of polls since the Westminster election have had Yes in the lead – majority support for independence is now the established position of the people of Scotland.

“On the basis of this sustained record support, it’s impossible for the UK government to deny Scotland a choice over its future.

“It’s clear that people in Scotland have confidence in the SNP, and in Scotland’s ability to govern itself – and want nothing to do with the Prime Minister and his cabinet of Brexit cronies.”

The latest Panelbase poll contacted 1,026 voters in Scotland between Tuesday and Friday.

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Jeremy Corbyn’s legacy: Labour strongholds to turn blue as UK’s Red Wall falls

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Professor Matthew Goodwin argues the Tories can tap into support in seats that stuck with Labour in the December election. He said: “That well is still deeper than the Conservatives have currently realised… There are a number of Labour-held seats today that have much more smaller majorities but are filled with the exact same types of voters that are in seats that just went from Labour to the Conservatives.

“There is a very clear incentive for the Conservatives to get this right.”

However, the professor acknowledged the Tories enjoyed a unique tactical advantage in 2019 by being able to target voters who wanted to see Brexit become a reality.

He said: “The moment the Conservatives took this election and turned it into essentially another referendum on that Brexit question they always held a big advantage over a more divided Remain camp.”

Speaking on former Work and Pension Secretary Esther McVey’s Blue Collar Conversations podcast, he said the challenge facing the Conservatives now is how to keep together a “coalition between blue collar workers, self-employed workers, small business people and their traditional sometimes more economically secure and affluent supporters from the middle class”.

He described the Covid-19 crisis as a “watershed moment”, saying the first people who have been hit by the virus and the economic fall-out are the “very same groups that have gone out and voted for Brexit and voted for the Conservatives”.

Ms McVey argues the Conservative party needs “to find its inner pragmatism” to give people the support they need and get broadband infrastructure in place. She is concerned that “without that practical problem-solving we will see new inequalities and new divides in the country”.

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World News

Merkel warning: German leader told NOT to cling to power – ‘Would quickly turn sour’

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Germany’s Chancellor stood down as leader of the Christian Democratic Union in 2018, while remaining as the country’s leader. However, she announced she would stand down in 2021, and would not seek a fifth term in office.

Germans would quickly sour on this

Thorsten Benner

With no obvious replacement having yet emerged, Mrs Merkel retains enormous amounts of authority not to mention worldwide name recognition, and it was reported government officials were “really glad” she was still in charge to manage the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Thorsten Benner of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin told The Sunday Times any bid to prolong her tenure would be a mistake and could backfire.

He said: “Germans would quickly sour on this.

“They are anxious about the economy, sure, but they’re ready to turn a page.

“And there’s a generation of men who think it’s their turn to take over.”

Furthermore, were the 65-year-old to outstay her welcome, it would play into politicians from the far-right, he predicted.

Germany’s right-wing AfD party took 12.6 percent of the vote, and 94 seats in the Bundestag, in the 2017 general election which sat the CDU/CSU alliance take less than 33 percent and 246 seats, down 65.

Assessing Mrs Merkel’s handling of the pandemic, which has seen a notably low COVID-19 fatality rate in Germany, Joerg Friborg of the German Marshall Fund think tank said: “It was a situation that was made for her.

“There have been ups and downs for her over the years.

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“It seemed the government wouldn’t survive just a year ago.

“But she’s always managed to recover: she has a proven ability to handle crises.”

However, CDU MP Juergen Hardt said she would not be persuaded to change her mind about stepping down, despite the praise which has been heading her way.

He explained: “She’s thinking, ‘I did it for 16 years.

“I have nothing left on my desk to accomplish.

“I’m healthy, I have some years left to enjoy without all the pressure of leadership.”

The race to replace Mrs Merkel was thrown wide open this year after Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, whom was tipped to succeed her, announced she was standing down as CDU leader after persistent criticism.

She said: “This is a decision that I have come to over a period of time.”

A new leadership contest is likely to be held in the summer.

Mrs Merkel’s final months as Chancellor will largely coincide with Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Asked about the future of the bloc, itself under pressure for its sluggish pandemic response, she said: “Rather than ask the existential question too often, we should get on with the day job.”

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China WAR warning: Beijing launches ‘invasion’ in terrifying military rehearsal

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It emerges just days after Beijing caused fury in Britain and democracies worldwide by imposing a  new security law on the former colony, breaking terms of the handover treaty which guaranteed it democracy under “one nation two systems” until 2047.

But last night experts warned that President Xi Jinping ‘s aggressive policies may be running out of fuel as he struggles to deliver economic promises while unemployment in China soars.

There have been two military exercises  designed to practice the military takeover of Hong Kong in the last eight months, sources say, suggesting Beijing is preparing  itself to use troops to quell dissent.

The first, in November, consisted of two groups of four Changhe Z-8 troop- carrying helicopters which practiced in mountainous regions to simulate Hong King’s geographical terrain. That exercise, which was held at night, was curtailed after one of the eight helicopters crashed, killing 17 soldiers and crew.

The second was held at the end of February, just six weeks before the Chinese Communist Party began to deliberately circulate rumours about the intended introduction of the new national security law to gauge response among its cadres. 

Also a night-time exercise using troop-carrying helicopters, it is understood to have focussed on northern Hong Kong and was completed successfully. 

Though full details of the new security law have not been published, summaries suggest it will make secessionist, subversive, or terrorist activities illegal, as well as foreign intervention in the city’s internal affairs.

Other reports have suggested that it will let Hong Kong’ chief executive pick judges for national security cases, for cases to be tried in mainland courts – which notoriously have a 99 percent conviction rate – and that it could be applied retroactively.

It is already having its effect, with pro-democracy leaders branded secessionists even though they have not argued for Hong Kong’s independence. 

Despite strict Covid-19 lockdown measures, more than 300 demonstrators were arrested after the new law was announced last week. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the move a “grave and deeply disturbing” breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration that set out Hong Kong’s mostly autonomous rule for 50 years after the territory was handed back in 1997.

Britain has now offered bespoke citizenship rights to around 3 million Hong Kong nationals, and the US has imposed visa restriction in Chinese officials. 

But while the world watches China further isolate itself as it pursues an increasingly aggressive foreign policy, the underpinning of Xi’s power may not be as secure as many think, warned China expert Matthew Henderson, of the Henry Jackson Society think tank. 

This is because China’s actions in South China Sea, which it plans next year to brand an Air Defence Identification Zone – tantamount to imposing territorial authority – India, where border clashes are escalating and even Hong Kong, where foreign investment is expected to dry up, is not helping Xi to keep promises of economic growth. 

China’s people are under increased surveillance, subject to AI monitoring and the social credit system (which grades the population’s civic mindedness and curtails freedoms for low scorers) – all in return for which they were promised six percent growth. Xi  needs this to maintain social order. But it isn’t happening,” said Henderson, a former diplomat who worked in both Hong Kong and Beijing,

“During  the National People’s Congress in May, the party didn’t even set a target for growth because it knows the economy has actually contracted by 6.8 percent over the last year.

“It needs 3 percent growth just to meet employment targets. And employment is the big deal.

“There have been around 70 million lost jobs so far since the Covid-19 pandemic began, according to Western observers with inside knowledge, but the figure is probably much higher.”

In addition, some 373 million people are earning less than $5.5 a day while 291 million migrants have zero employment opportunities, he said.

China’s domestic economy had already stalled because Xi refused to privatise State Owned Enterprises to make the economy more spontaneous and innovative. 

And Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, designed to boost Chinese employment by selling often unnecessary infrastructure projects to developing countries in return for high loan returns and the use of Chinese labour, was already failing even before the Covid-19 crisis.

“At Davis 2017 China portrayed itself as the economic superpower that looks after the developing world, “ said Henderson. 

“What we actually saw was an export of debt, shoddy standards, and dams and railways and massively redundant infrastructure being sold as vanity projects which were vehicles for money laundering by the corrupt elite. 

“BRI caused great damage to economies overseas which were fragile; it left swathes of Africa and much of South America in a state of economic disarray, with countries like Venezuela and Ecuador completely destroyed economically, and increasing damage to Brazil, Argentina and Chile.”

Instead of leveraging huge accumulations of wealth to buy its way in to more dynamic markets, much of the money loaned by China will have to be written off, he said.

This includes a $60bn loan to Venezuela.

“BRI was desperation dressed up as benevolence and there is no doubt at all that it has failed.

“Economies that were beginning to stabilise and diversify were forced back to selling resources. These countries will now be questioning whether they made a mistake.”

Even the pandemic, which has stalled the global economy and effected Chinese exports,  happened on his watch when he hesitated for two weeks before imposing a lockdown that was too late to stop the epidemic spreading. 

More than this, Xi broke the cardinal rule imposed by former President Deng Xiaoping – that the CCP can only effectively operate as a collective. 

“Deng knew what would happen if another Mao came along, so he imposed checks and balances which Xi has now swept aside,” said Henderson. 

“Xi micromanages everything, from the military to the economy to technology  through a series of small leadership groups which are essentially echo chambers consisting of cronies who block him from reality.

“The biggest stress is  the unwillingness to criticise him. People are extremely scared, so they don’t. 

“He goes on thinking his policies are working because no one is telling him they aren’t”

Protests across China after the death of whistleblower Dr Li Wenliang prove that  citizens still have a voice, he said. 

“Dr Li said it was wrong when a country has only one voice. But we now know China does not have only one voice. 

“The people spoke very briefly, but their voices were heard.

“This is a brittle system under extreme stress and the economy that drives it is flawed, and getting worse. Xi cannot control this and nor can he control what might happen in the future.”

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‘Our waters!’ Britons FURIOUS over French plot to block UK fishing ports after Brexit

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Brexit talks between the UK and the European Union ended prematurely on Thursday with outstanding issues remaining over trade and fisheries. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has demanded a level playing field with the UK over trade as well as access to UK fishing waters after the transition period – something his counterpart David Frost has rejected.

Britain is on course to leave the controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) next year and become an independent coastal state – free to set its own tariffs and quotas on stocks.

Following the breakdown of talks, fishing expert and CEO of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation Barrie Deas, has warned French fisherman could block UK ports if its fisherman have reduced access to UK waters.

The proposition of a stand-off in the English Channel has prompted a furious response from a number of readers, who let their feelings known on the websites Facebook page.

One angry user said: “They’re our waters, we let the EU use them to the detriment of our own fishing industry when we foolishly joined the EU.

“The French or any EU country does not have the right to fish in our sovereign territory unless we say so.”

A second reader said: “They have plundered our fish stocks long enough- time to give nature a rest, and to give our fishermen the rights to fish unhindered in our own waters!”

A third commented: “Typical of macron wants everything his own way.

“They are British fishing waters, not French, pay for what you take and only take what we say.”

Meanwhile a fourth simply said: “Our waters our fish they need to accept that.”

Mr Deas explained how a lack of a deal on fisheries would impact the fishing Industry in France.

He claimed the current deal negotiated in 1983, ensured 84 percent of the quota of cod in the English Channel went to France, compared to just nine percent staying in the UK.

He told “French fishermen have a long track record of blockading Channel ports when they’re upset about something.

“They’ve done it for much lesser reasons than the UK becoming an independent coastal state, renegotiation of quotas, even if there is access for French fishermen.

“I think it would be naive to expect they will be happy about this or do nothing about it.

“There’s a long history of those kinds of blockades.”

Following the four-days of talks in Brussels, Mr Barnier said there were still “serious divergences” between the two sides.

He said: “Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement.


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“However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.”

The EU negotiator firmly pointed the blame towards the UK and said the bloc had engaged “constructively” and added officials needed to see an “equivalent engagement from the UK side”.

Mr Frost said: “We have completed our discussion of the full range of issues in the negotiation in just over three days.

“The negotiations have been comprehensive and useful. But they have also underlined the significant differences that still remain between us on a number of important issues.”

The next round of Brexit trade talks will take place next week in London.

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World News

WW3 fears: Kim Jong-Un rejects talks with Trump over North Korea’s nuclear programme

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North Korean vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui has warned the US Kim Jong-Un has no intention of changing policy and surrendering its nuclear weapons. Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump have met three times during the US President’s first term.

In their second meeting in 2019, talks broke down after chairman Kim failed to offer enough nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles in exchange for lifting international sanctions.

In a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency, Mr Hui questioned the motive of the US and accused Washington of using the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DRPK) for political reasons.

Mr Hui said: “We do not feel any need to sit face to face with the US as it does not consider the DPRK-US dialogue as nothing more than a tool for grappling its political crisis.”

He added: “There will never be any adjustment and change in our policy, conditional on external parameters like internal political schedule of someone.”

The refusal to engage with Washington comes as US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who led previous working-level negotiations with North Korea, is due to visit neighbouring South Korea to discuss relations.

The North Korean vice foreign minister also accused Washington of having a “hostile policy” towards Pyongyang and going back on previous agreements.

Mr Hui added any potential negotiations would be a waste of time and insisted the US is “mistaken” for thinking talks could achieve anything.

He said: “Is it possible to hold dialogue or have any dealings with the US which persists in the hostile policy toward the DPRK in disregard of the agreements already made at the past summit.

“It is clear to us, even without meeting, as to what shallow trick the US will approach us with, as it has neither intention nor will to go back to the drawing board.

“The US is mistaken if it thinks things like negotiations would still work on us.”

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un met for the first time in 2018 in Singapore, they met again in Vietnam in 2019 before nuclear talks broke down.

A third surprise meeting took place on in June 2019 at the demilitarised zone separating the North and South Korea – Mr Trump made history by becoming the first US president to set foot in North Korea.

Ahead of his visit to South Korea next week, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said there is time for both sides to re-engage and “make substantial progress”.


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South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said Mr Trump and Kim Jong Un should meet again before the crucial US election in November.

President Moon Jae-in said: “I believe there’s a need for North Korea and the US to try dialogue one more time before the US presidential election.

“The issues of nuclear programs and sanctions will ultimately have to be resolved through North Korea-US talks.”

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Four hundred arrests at Hong Kong rally against new security law

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Tong Ying-kit, 23, reportedly rammed officers with his motorbike at an illegal protest. He has been charged with inciting separatism and terrorism. Almost 400 people were arrested in the first 24 hours of a crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners, the UN revealed yesterday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accused China of “an unacceptable breach” of Hong Kong’s freedoms.

The charge against Ying-kit came just hours after the city’s government outlawed the protest slogan. It appears on placards at most rallies, is printed on T-shirts and has been scrawled on walls across the Chinese-ruled city.

The UN said: “We are alarmed that arrests are already being made with immediate effect, when there is not full information and understanding of the scope of the offences.”

Nathan Law, leader of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, urged world leaders to intervene and campaigners also called on people to form a shadow parliament in exile.

Simon Cheng, a Hong Kong citizen, worked for the British consulate but fled after beatings by the secret police and was granted asylum in Britain.

He said the move would send a message that democracy cannot be crushed: “A shadow parliament can send a very clear signal to Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities that democracy need not be at the mercy of Beijing.

“We need to be clever to deal with the expanding totalitarianism: they are showing more powerful muscle to suppress, so we need to be more subtle and agile.” 

He added: “We should stand with the Hong Kong people.”

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MEP admits member states could follow Brexit Britain’s lead – European Union ‘struggling’

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And with the Brexit transition period coming to an end on December 31, Professor Zdzislaw Krasnodebski said he and many of his colleagues fully understood Britain’s reasons for quitting the bloc. Prof Krasnodebski, a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group and the head of the ECR’s EU Reform Working Group, said the bloc was at a dangerous crossroads. He told “We now have this pandemic crisis which also makes weaker states weaker and stronger ones stronger.

“I think in many cases Brussels has been struggling to exert pressure on member states.”

Highlighting dissatisfaction within Italy, he warned: “Salvini was very critical of the EU’s immigration policy but also the euro, and some political scientists have said it will be the next country which will leave the union because of the eurozone – but it was controlled by the change of Government.”

Nevertheless, he stressed the importance of wide-ranging reforms to counter the tendency towards centralisation.

Prof Krasnodebski acknowledged the way the bloc had developed, and the push for an “ever closer union”, had been a catalyst for Brexit.

He said: “I always thought that the reasons for Brexit was not just a sudden decision of the British people but also due to the internal problems and evolution of the EU.

“We regret, of course, that our British colleagues left.

“The official line of the Parliament is that Michel Barnier is negotiating on behalf of the whole union, all the countries and all states.

“But I can say in my personal opinion and for us in Parliament, partnership with Britain is important.”

Prof Krasnodebski said he could see “a great amount of rationality” in British determination not to be bound by EU regulations after the end of the year.

The level-playing field argument was also used as an excuse for defending EU interests, he suggested.

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He added: “It is in the interests of the EU, of continental Europe to have a free exchange with Great Britain.

“We should not be inclined to force our laws on Great Britain.”

Prof Krasnodebski said: “I can’t speak for my country but I think there are many colleagues in the same political group, probably when we are talking about it we share this view that they should be more flexible.

“And sometimes we have an impression that maybe this is because of this attitude that no country can be better off outside of the union than inside.”

Speaking last week, Prof Krasnodebski called for a “truly open and fair debate” on the future of Europe.

He said: “We believe that efforts should be made to restore the Union as a European community of sovereign nations, based on a Eurorealistic vision of a confederate Europe that respects the rights and democratic legitimacy of the Member States.

“We must strengthen its spiritual foundations.

“If we are to learn anything from the history of the 20th Century, then it should be to understand how dangerous it can be to attempt to completely rebuild societies.”

He added: “Nations feel that they are slowly being deprived of the right to self-determination.

“And citizens see that the EU is increasingly interfering with their lives.

“The European Union is becoming more and more detached from being European, turning its back on its cultural, philosophical and religious traditions.

“We must make it European again in the proper sense of the word.”

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