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There are 40 days until Brexit. Where do things stand? | UK News




London, United Kingdom – With just 40 days to go before the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union (EU), the fog of Brexit continues to obscure the country’s future.

Britain is scheduled to leave the EU – with or without a formal exit deal – on March 29.

Huge questions remain around the terms of its departure, or whether it will even happen, amid calls for a second referendum to halt Brexit after two years of fraught negotiations.

What stage is the Brexit process at?

The British government has yet to sign a formal agreement with the EU on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and their future relationship.

Beleaguered Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to renegotiate a sticking point in a draft deal she has agreed with Brussels called the “backstop”, which aims to avoid the creation of a hard customs border in Northern Ireland.

Last week she suffered another bruising defeat in parliament over her strategy, which amounts to telling fractious MPs to back her deal or face the prospect of withdrawal from the EU on March 29 without one.

Economists say such a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous.

Regardless, May will tell EU leaders that her latest defeat does not stop her building a majority for her Brexit plan – if only Brussels were to tweak the backstop, which it refuses to do.

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University London, said: “For any rational prime minister the latest defeat would probably cause them to think again, but Theresa May is still set in her ways and intent on pursuing the same course as before.

“She seems absolutely wedded to her strategy of running down the clock and presenting MPs with a ‘my deal or chaos’ ultimatum.”

What’s the next step?

May is due to update parliament about her talks with EU leaders on February 27, when MPs will again vote on her strategy.

The prime minister faces her biggest challenge to date from a cross-party group of MPs led by Labour MP Yvette Cooper seeking to extend the Article 50 March 29 deadline – and hence kick a “no deal” scenario into the long grass.

Professor Anand Menon, director of the UK in a Changing Europe academic think-tank, said: “May’s plan has basically rested on her ability to get concessions from the EU, to come back and to scare leavers into thinking that we are going to end up with a second referendum and to scare remainers into thinking that we are going to end up with no deal – and if the Cooper amendment takes no deal off the table, at least in the short term, it wrecks her plan.”

Moreover, May could be forced to let her rebellious cabinet ministers vote according to their conscience – as many as six could resign if she fails to extend Article 50.

Would extending Article 50 stop Brexit?

No, it would merely give parliament more time to build a consensus around what it wants by forestalling a “no deal” Brexit – and would not deliver a second referendum.

Although May herself insists she intends to lead Britain out of the EU as planned on March 29, a senior civil servant has reportedly revealed she may accept an extension.

Bale said: “It is looking increasingly difficult for Theresa May and the government to meet that March 29 deadline not just because it is difficult to get the legislation through in time but there is simply insufficient agreement about Brexit.

“I suspect the EU would rather grant us an extension to find out properly what we want before allowing us to leave with an inadequate deal or no deal at all.”

Are there other possible outcomes?

Another vision of a “soft Brexit” has been put forward by leaders of the opposition Labour Party that would keep the UK in a customs union, removing any need for the backstop.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has held his cards close to his chest but is due to hold talks with Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier in a bid to break the deadlock.

Menon said: “The saving grace for the prime minister is that Corbyn is still spectacularly vague on what exactly he means by a ‘softer Brexit’.

Anti-Brexit demonstrators have held near-daily protests [Hannah Mckay/Reuters] 

“Corbyn himself is very reluctant to be specific and that helps the prime minister because she can say: ‘Look, nothing he says makes any sense’.”

Bale believes that while the PM’s latest defeat in parliament may strengthen Corbyn’s hand – May shows no sign of budging.

“It’s been obvious since she was defeated in parliament in January that she can move to a softer Brexit and get cross-party support for that – but she is persisting in this belief that she can, in the end, frighten people into backing some variant of her deal with just a few weeks or days to go.”

Another option that has failed to gain momentum in parliament but has public support is for a second referendum – which is proving increasingly divisive within the Labour Party.

Such tensions could have an enduring effect on British politics as the leave versus remain alignments created by Brexit displace traditional left-right loyalties.

Bale said: “There are strains within both main parties and it could be that we will see splinters, particularly from the Labour Party, on this.”

How long will May keep her job?

May has enemies on both wings of her party and experts agree that whatever the outcome of Brexit, her days as Conservative leader – and hence prime minister – are numbered

Menon said: “One theory is that she gets a bit of a bounce for taking the country out of Europe, the other is that it will take her opponents time, but they will remove her.”

Bale is convinced she will be forced out rapidly.

“After Brexit, she goes in fairly short order – the Conservative Party will want [to be] rid of her as soon as possible.”


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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day




The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat




In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic




TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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