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Thursday, 15 August, 2019

FOREIGN NEWS 07

'Collaborators' are undermining britain's brexit bet, says Pm Johnson LONDON

P

AGENCIES

RIME Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday some British lawmakers hoping to block Brexit were engaged in “terrible” collaboration with the European Union by undermining London’s negotiating hand and so making no deal more likely. Hours after senior lawmakers said they would seek to prevent any attempt to ignore parliament over Brexit, Johnson used a question-and-answer session on Facebook to attack them. “There is a terrible kind of collaboration as it were going on between those who think they can block Brexit in parliament and our European friends,” Johnson, who has been hailed by the U.S. president as “Britain’s Trump”, said on Facebook. “We need our European friends to compromise and the more they think that there’s a chance that Brexit can be blocked in parliament, the more adamant they are in sticking to their position,” Johnson said. Johnson’s use of the word “collaborator” has historical echoes for Britons given the use of that epithet for people who cooperated with Nazi Germany during World War Two. “Shameful language of fascism and

authoritarianism from liar Johnson + unelected advisors - plain and simple. European neighbours are our friends not ‘enemy’ to ‘collaborate’ with,” Labour lawmaker Stephen Doughty said on Twitter. Johnson’s comments followed remarks by former finance minister Philip Hammond that parliament will block a no-deal Brexit if unelected people behind Johnson try to wrench Britain out on Oct. 31 without agreement. The United Kingdom is heading towards a constitutional crisis at home and a showdown with the EU as Johnson has vowed to leave the bloc in 78 days time without a deal unless it agrees to renegotiate a Brexit divorce. After more than three years of Brexit dominating EU affairs, the bloc has repeatedly refused to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement which includes an Irish border insurance policy that Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, agreed in November. Hammond, who served as May’s finance minister for three years, said unelected people in Johnson’s Downing Street office were setting London on an “inevitable” course towards a no-deal Brexit by demanding the Irish backstop be dropped. “The people behind this know that that means that there will be no deal,” Hammond told the BBC. “Parliament is

clearly opposed to a no-deal exit, and the prime minister must respect that.” LAWMAKERS’ RESOLVE: The former minister’s first public intervention since resigning indicates the determination of a group of influential lawmakers to thwart Johnson if he goes for a no-deal Brexit. Hammond said he was confident parliament, where a majority oppose a no-deal Brexit, would find a way to block that outcome. It is, however, unclear if lawmakers have the unity or power to use the 800year-old heart of British democracy to prevent a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 -

likely to be the United Kingdom’s most consequential move since World War Two. Opponents of no deal say it would be a disaster for what was once one of the West’s most stable democracies. A disorderly divorce, they say, would hurt global growth, send shockwaves through financial markets and weaken London’s claim to be the world’s preeminent financial centre. Brexit supporters say there may be short-term disruption from a no-deal exit but that the economy will thrive if cut free from what they cast as a doomed experi-

ment in integration that has led to Europe falling behind China and the United States. Heading towards one of the biggest constitutional crises in at least a century, Britain’s elite are quarrelling over how, when and even if the result of the shock 2016 referendum will be implemented. Part of the problem is that Britain’s constitution, once touted as a global model, is uncodified and vague. It relies on precedent, but there is little for Brexit. The House of Commons speaker John Bercow told an audience in Scotland that lawmakers could prevent a no-deal Brexit and that he would fight any attempt to prorogue, or suspend, parliament “with every bone in my body”. Johnson, who replaced May after she failed three times to get her Brexit deal through parliament, has refused to rule out proroguing the House of Commons and Brexit supporters have vociferously encouraged him to do so if necessary. Johnson’s top advisor, Dominic Cummings, has reportedly said he could delay calling a general election until after Oct. 31, even if he lost a no confidence motion, allowing for a no-deal Brexit while parliament is dissolved. Clearly with him in mind, Hammond said there were people “who are pulling the strings in Downing Street, those who are setting the strategy.” Cummings declined to comment to Reuters.

Franco-Irish girl's family mourn 'unbearable' loss, as autopsy conducted KUALA LUMPUR AGENCIES

a$aP rocky convicted of assault, gets suspended sentence STOCKHOLM AGENCIES

A Stockholm court on Wednesday convicted US rapper A$AP Rocky of assault and handed him a suspended sentence over a street brawl in June, a case that outraged fans and sparked a diplomatic spat with US President Donald Trump. The 30year-old rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, and two members of his entourage were found guilty of assaulting a 19-year-old in a fight in central Stockholm on June 30. The three, who were in the Swedish capital for a concert, “assaulted the victim by hitting and kicking him as he lay on the ground. The artist has also thrown the victim to the ground and stepped on his arm,” the court wrote in its verdict, rejecting the defence’s argument of self-defence. The three were “not in a situation where they were entitled to self-defence”, the court said. Mayers was not present in Stockholm for the verdict. Prosecutor Daniel Suneson had called for a six-month prison sentence for Mayers and two of his crew, while the defence argued they should be acquitted. Considered a “flight risk”, Mayers was held in custody for a month while the case was investigated and throughout his trial. But he was released after the close of proceedings on August 2, pending the verdict, and immediately returned to the United States. Fans, fellow artists and even Trump had called for his release — with the US president’s intervention drawing complaints from Swedish politicians. US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert C. O’Brien to attend the trial, who told reporters: “The president felt they shouldn’t have been detained, they were stalked.” An online petition also called #JusticeForRocky garnered more than 640,000 signatures and supporters were urged to boycott Swedish brands such as Ikea. At his first performance on Sunday following his release, in Anaheim in California, the rapper thanked fans and called the experience in Sweden “scary” and “humbling”. “I need y’all to keep praying for me,” he told the crowd, saying he hoped he would not have to return to serve a jail sentence.

Malaysian authorities Wednesday conducted a post-mortem examination on the body of a Franco-Irish teen found in the jungle after she disappeared from a resort, as her family mourned the “unbearable” loss. The unclothed body of Nora Quoirin, 15, was discovered Tuesday in a ravine in dense rainforest after a 10-day hunt involving hundreds of people, helicopters and sniffer dogs. She went missing from the Dusun Resort, not far from Kuala Lumpur, on August 4, a day after checking in for a holiday with her London-based family. Her family believed the teen, who had learning difficulties, had been abducted but police classified her disappearance as a missing person case. Her body was airlifted by helicopter out of the ravine — about 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) from the resort — after which it was transported to hos-

pital and identified by her relatives. Medics began conducting a postmortem examination on the body Wednesday morning, as a media scrum gathered at the hospital in Seremban town, which was guarded by armed officers. The autopsy took longer than expected and was set to finish in the evening, with police say-

ing the doctors had asked for extra time. Her relatives said the schoolgirl was “at the heart of our family”, in a statement released by The Lucie Blackman Trust, a UK charity that supports relatives of British people missing overseas. “She is the truest, most precious girl and we love her infinitely. The

cruelty of her being taken away is unbearable. Our hearts are broken. “We will always love our Nora.” After meeting the girl’s parents, family lawyer Sankara N. Nair said they hoped “the authorities will investigate the death of their loving daughter thoroughly and explore all angles that caused her death”. The body was found unclothed but authorities have not said if there were any signs of injury. Police are not ruling out criminal elements in the case, have questioned witnesses and are investigating witness accounts of a truck heard early on the morning the girl disappeared. A group of volunteers who were part of the search and rescue team found the body after being tipped off by a member of the public. It was discovered in the official search zone, in an area that the team had previously covered. On Monday, the family had offered a 50,000 ringgit ($11,900) reward, donated by a Belfast business, for information that could lead to her return.

Fossil fuels? Plastic? Trump says more is better WASHINGTON AGENCIES

President Donald Trump has seen the future and it is oil. And plastic. Where most environmental scientists and most US allies fear that overuse of fossil fuels is driving the planet into crisis, the US president spies only opportunity. In a speech on Tuesday to hundreds of workers building a new Shell petrochemical factory near Pittsburgh, Trump did not bother paying even lip service to environmental concerns. He just wanted to make clear that America is winning. “We’re the number one energy producer and I’m so proud of that,” he said. Already, the United States has won “independence” from the former Middle Eastern guardians of the oil spigots, Trump said. Next up? “Dominance.” Trump said that his priority on entering office had been to halt “the war on energy.” Ending “the far left’s energy nightmare” is at the core of his presidency, he said. The crowd, comprised mostly of men in highvisibility safety vests and work boots, cheered.

FANTASTIC PLASTIC: The Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex will make manufacturinggrade plastic out of liquid natural gas extracted through fracking from the Marcellus Shale deposit. The facility, a huge web of pipes and half-constructed buildings, is a symbol of Trump’s aggressive pro-fossil fuel agenda — and a powerful statement to his working-class voters that he meant business when he promised to restore the US manufacturing base. Pennsylvania is a particularly important target: the state will be one of the vital pieces in the 2020 presidential election puzzle and Trump is struggling. But plastic? The material, once cele-

brated as a near-miraculous byproduct of hydrocarbons, is increasingly seen as a scourge, clogging up rivers, circulating forever in the seas, invading the food chain, and showing up everywhere from the deepest ocean to the seemingly pristine Arctic. All that, Trump says, is someone else’s fault. “It’s not our plastic. It’s plastics that’s floating over in the ocean,” Trump told reporters on the way to the Shell plant. “Plastics are fine, but you have to know what to do with them. But other countries are not taking care of their plastic use and they haven’t for a long time.” Trump’s focus on old-school heavy manufacturing and fossil fuel energy production goes far beyond just visiting the occasional new factory. He has sought to rewrite strict environmental protection rules that he referred to on Tuesday as “horror stories.” Trump gleefully told the crowd that his Environmental Protection Agency chief, Andrew Wheeler, “knows how to break it up.” Breaking it up means the Trump administration’s dismantling of regulations put in place by his predecessor Barack Obama, including the Clean Power Plan, which sought reduced greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

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