LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal to quit the European Union for a second time on Tuesday, deepening the country’s worst political crisis for generations, 17 days before the planned departure date.
MPs voted against May’s amended Brexit deal by 391 to 242 as her last-minute talks with EU chiefs on Monday to assuage her critics’ concerns ultimately proved fruitless.
The vote puts the world’s fifth largest economy in uncharted territory with no obvious way forward: exiting the EU without a deal, delaying the March 29 divorce date, a snap election, or even another referendum are all now possible.
May might even try a third time to get parliamentary support in the hope that hardline eurosceptic MPs in her Conservative Party, the most vocal critics of her withdrawal treaty, might change their minds if it becomes more likely that Britain might stay in the EU after all.
While she lost, the margin of defeat was smaller than the record 230-vote loss her deal suffered in January.
“If this vote is not passed tonight, if this deal is not passed, then Brexit could be lost,” a hoarse-voiced May told MPs before her deal was defeated.
Sterling, which had earlier in the day fallen by two percent to $1.3005, was trading at around $1.3082 shortly after the vote. [GBP/]
MPs are now due to vote on Wednesday on whether Britain should exit the world’s biggest trading bloc without a deal, a scenario that business leaders warn would bring chaos to markets and supply chains, and other critics say could cause shortages of food and medicines.
Supporters of Brexit argue that, while a “no-deal” divorce might bring some short-term instability, in the longer term it would allow the United Kingdom to thrive and forge beneficial trade deals across the world.
However, parliament is expected firmly to reject a “no-deal” Brexit as well, so on Thursday MPs would then vote on whether government should request a delay to the leaving date to allow further talks.
Both May and the EU have already ruled out any other changes to the deal, struck after two-and-a-half years of tortuous negotiations.
“There will be no third chance,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday. “There will be no further interpretations of the interpretations, no further assurances of the reassurances if the ‘meaningful vote’ tomorrow fails.”
Britons voted by 52-48 percent in 2016 to leave the EU but the decision has not only divided the main parties but also exposed deep rifts in British society, bringing concerns about immigration and globalisation to the fore.
Many fear that Brexit will divide the West as it grapples with both the unconventional U.S. presidency of Donald Trump and growing assertiveness from Russia and China, leaving Britain economically weaker and with its security capabilities depleted.
Supporters say it allows Britain to control immigration and take advantage of global opportunities, striking new trade deals with the United States and others while still keeping close links to the EU, which, even without Britain, would be a single market of 440 million people.
Additional reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Giles Elgood and Kevin Liffey
New Zealand Bans Military-Style Semiautomatics, Assault Rifles, Effective Immediately
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — The New Zealand government is asking all owners of assault weapons or now-banned attachments to report them to the government in the next two days before turning them in.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced that the government was immediately banning sales of what New Zealand calls military style semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines like the weapons used in last Friday’s attacks on two Christchurch mosques.
She says the cabinet is also working on a gun buyback program to be announced later. Ardern says there will be “tightly regulated” exemptions for some owners such as hunters and farmers.
Ardern announced the ban Thursday and said it would be followed by legislation to be introduced next month.
She said the man arrested in the attacks had purchased his weapons legally and enhanced their capacity by using 30-round magazines “done easily through a simple online purchase.”
More information about the New Zealand decision, courtesy of the New Zealand government.
Q&A – New Zealand’s gun law changes explained
1. What semi-automatic firearms will be affected by the ban?
The ban will apply to all firearms are now defined as Military Style Semi-Automatics (MSSAs) and will also include assault rifles.
2. What semi-automatic firearms will NOT be affected by the ban?
There is a balance to be struck between public safety and legitimate use. The changes exclude two general classes of firearms which are commonly used for hunting, pest control, stock management on farms, and duck shooting:
· Semi-automatic .22 calibre rimfire firearms with a magazine which holds no more than ten rounds
· Semi-automatic and pump action shotguns with a non-detachable tubular magazine which holds no more than five rounds
3. What semi-automatic firearms are affected by today’s Order in Council?
Two types of firearms are now defined as Military Style Semi-Automatics (MSSAs):
· A semi-automatic firearm capable of being used with a detachable magazine which holds more than five cartridges
· A semi-automatic shotgun capable of being used with a detachable magazine which holds more than five cartridges
4. I have an A-Category firearms licence and now own MSSAs. What should I do?
It would normally be an offence for an A-Category licence holder to possess an MSSA, punishable by up to three years in prison or a $4000 fine. However a transitional period gives time for people to comply with the law, if they take certain steps. The transitional period will be confirmed next month. Firearms owners who unlawfully possess an MSSA now have three options:
· Voluntarily surrender the firearm to Police for safe disposal.
· Complete an online form on the Police website to arrange for the MSSA to be collected, while details are finalised for compensation under a buy back scheme
· Sell or gift the firearm to a person who has an E-Category licence and a ‘permit to procure’ the weapon
5. Are Police geared up to receive large numbers of MSSAs?
Yes. They will work with the New Zealand Defence Force to enable safe storage, transport and destruction of MSSAs. Police are establishing an online form which will make it easier for firearms owners to arrange for Police to collect the MSSAs. The online form will go live over the weekend. It will not be practicable for firearms owners to physically return their weapons to Police stations without prior approval. Where extra administrative staff are required they will be hired on fixed-term contracts.
6. Will this lead to stockpiling of semi-automatics?
No. The changes under the Order in Council take effect immediately. Anyone who now unlawfully has an MSSA, which yesterday was a lawful firearm, needs to take steps to comply with the law.
7. Will some firearms dealers be breaking the law if they have these MSSAs in stock?
Some firearms dealers only hold A-category licences. In order to comply with the law, they could sell their stock of semi-automatics to a Category E licence holder or return them to their supplier.
8. What are the statistics for firearms licences and firearms in circulation?
· There are 245,000 firearms licences
· Of these, 7,500 are E-Category licences; and 485 are dealer licences
· There are 13,500 firearms which require the owner to have an E-Cat licence, this is effectively the known number of MSSAs before today’s changes
· The total number of firearms in New Zealand is estimated to be 1.2-1.5 million
9. What further issues are being considered?
Cabinet will consider further steps on 25 March. These will include measures to:
· Tighten firearms licensing and penalties
· Impose greater controls over a range of ammunition
· Address a number of other issues relevant to special interest groups such as international sports shooters and professional pest controllers, such as DoC.
· Future proof the Arms Act to ensure it is able to respond to developments in technology and society
10. How will the buyback work, and who will administer it?
Police, the Treasury and other agencies are working through the detail. More information will be available when the legislation is introduced next month. The compensation will be fair and reasonable based on firearm type, average prices and the age of firearms.
11. What is the cost of the buyback likely to be?
That is very difficult to judge, given the limited information about the total number of firearms affected by this change. Preliminary advice suggests it could be in the range of $100m-$200m. The buyback will ensure these weapons are taken out of circulation and that we fulfil our obligations under the law.
Trump Will Host Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu At White House Next Week
Washington (CNN) — President Donald Trump will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a dinner and talks at the White House next week, just two weeks before Israeli elections that will determine whether Netanyahu stays in power.
Trump’s decision to host the prime minister so close to the Israeli elections will undoubtedly be viewed by some as an effort by Trump — who enjoys sky-high approval ratings in Israel — to tip the scales in Netanyahu’s favor. And Netanyahu, who has made his close relationship with Trump central to his re-election campaign, will undoubtedly play up his visit in the final campaign stretch.
The decision is a striking contrast to Netanyahu’s trip to Washington weeks before the 2015 Israeli elections, when President Barack Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu to avoid appearing to influence that year’s elections.
Aside from its nearness to Israel’s elections, the visit comes as Netanyahu faces multiple investigations into corruption. Israel’s attorney general announced in February he would indict Netanyahu pending a hearing. That isn’t expected to occur until well after next month’s election.
The prime minister has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, denouncing the investigations as a media-led witch hunt.
Israel Attorney General Indicts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu On Corruption Charges
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s attorney general says he has decided to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a series of corruption charges.
Avichai Mandelblit said Thursday he has accepted the police recommendations to file charges against Netanyahu in three different cases, pending a final hearing.
In a Justice Ministry statement, Mandelblit says he plans to charge Netanyahu with bribery for promoting regulatory changes worth hundreds of millions of dollars to telecom giant Bezeq in return for positive press coverage in Bezeq’s popular subsidiary news site Walla.
He will also charge Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust in two other cases. The first involves accepting gifts from billionaire friends and the second revolves around alleged offers of advantageous legislation for a major newspaper in return for favorable coverage.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing. He called a press conference for Thursday evening.
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