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May to MPs: We need to hold our nerve on Brexit talks | UK News

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London, United Kingdom – British Prime Minister Theresa May sought to buy more time to achieve a Brexit deal with the European Union in a statement to MPs on Tuesday. 

Just 45 days to the March 29 Brexit deadline, the prime minister asked for support in her bid to seek changes to the Irish backstop in a vote on Thursday.

The prime minister also said that if there is no deal by February 26, the government will make a statement on that day and table another amendable motion for MPs to vote on the following day.

“The talks are at a crucial stage. We now all need to hold our nerve to get the changes this house requires and deliver Brexit on time,” May said in her statement at the House of Commons.

Britain and the EU agreed last week to hold further talks by the end of the month in an attempt to avoid a no-deal Brexit. 

May is seeking changes to the backstop, the backup mechanism contained in the withdrawal agreement to avoid a hard border in the island of Ireland, after MPs asked her to go back to Brussels to renegotiate it in a vote late last month. 

The EU has remained adamant that no changes would be made to the withdrawal agreement, which together with the political declaration is part of the deal the two sides negotiated over 18 painstaking months.

On January 15, MPs voted it down by 432 votes to 202 in an historic defeat for the prime minister, brought about by opposition to the backstop from within May’s own party. 

Eurosceptic Conservative MPs see the backstop as a way of tying the UK to the EU’s trade rules indefinitely.

A working group comprised of both pro and anti-Brexit Conservative MPs has been discussing possible alternatives.

Of course, Labour want power, they don’t want to be associated with helping May get her Brexit deal through.

Benjamin Martill, Dahrendorf Forum post-doctoral fellow at LSE

May also ruled out the idea of a customs union, which is one of the Labour Party‘s five demands for Brexit, set out by its leader Jeremy Corbyn in a letter to the prime minister last week.

Labour’s demands include a permanent, UK-wide customs union with the EU, close alignment with the single market, guarantees on the protection of workers’ rights, participation in EU agencies and funding programmes, and more guarantees on security arrangements.

Her statement on Tuesday reiterated she was not willing to budge on her red lines, arguing that a customs union would prevent the UK from having its own independent trade policy, and that it would be “a less desirable outcome than that which is provided for in the political declaration.”

According to Benjamin Martill, a Dahrendorf Forum post-doctoral fellow at the London School of Economics researching UK-EU relations, Corbyn has positioned Labour as the “party of the customs union” partly because “it’s a good halfway position” that would gather support from some of those opposed to Brexit who would see it as a better option than May’s plan, and partly “because it crosses the Conservative party’s red lines.”

“Of course, Labour want power, they don’t want to be associated with helping May get her Brexit deal through,” Martill argued, adding that Corbyn’s customs union requirements are “a way of making sure the Tories can’t come around to that position. It’s possibly not surprising that May is not willing to go that far.”

Corbyn faces pressure from some of his own MPs, who want him to push for a second referendum.

But Labour MP Lisa Nandy told the BBC on Monday that 40 to 60 of her colleagues were “actively looking for ways to support” a revised Brexit deal if the prime minister got “serious” about a customs unions and legislation to protect workers’ rights.

In the past, Corbyn repeatedly called for a general election should the prime minister fail to get a deal approved by Parliament.

Meanwhile, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Monday the bloc was “waiting for clarity and movement from the United Kingdom” as negotiations continued in Brussels.

The EU has ruled out reopening the withdrawal agreement but signalled that changes might be possible to the political declaration that sketches out the UK’s future relationship.

The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Monday that the economy has seen its weakest growth rate in six years amid Brexit uncertainty and a global economic slowdown.

Business leaders have argued that a no-deal Brexit would spell disaster for the UK’s economy.

“[May] really is hoping to run down the clock,” Martill said, “and I don’t think it is unreasonable to think that when the withdrawal agreement comes back to Parliament, it will get much more support than it did last time.”

There is however still a political impasse, said Martill, adding that while both parties were playing strategically, “it’s quite unlikely to see where all the support for the withdrawal agreement is going to come from.”

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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse

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Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa

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If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake

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The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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