Category Archives: Europe – United Kingdom

Barbados plans to scrap Queen Elizabeth off leadership post.

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Renewed push for republican status comes 45 years after the former British colony gained independence.

Barbados wants to remove the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic, the Caribbean nation’s government has said.

A former British colony that gained independence in 1966, Barbados has maintained a formal link with the monarchy like some other countries that were once part of the British empire.

“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” said Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason, delivering a speech on behalf of the country’s Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

“Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving. Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence.”

That anniversary will come in November of next year.

Some on social media celebrated the move.

Kristen Clarke, the head of the Washington, DC-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the development symbolised the “globalisation” of the Black Lives Matter movement.

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According to the Barbados Today, the idea of Barbados becoming a republic was discussed as early as the 1970s.

“The peril and uncertainty of the times compel us to reinforce our foundation. Equally, we are challenged to shore up our traditional structures and find stronger, more resilient, more sustainable architecture, on which we can build a modern and enduring structure for current and future generations,” Mason said, according to the newspaper.

“Barbados has developed governance structures and institutions that mark us as what has been described as, ‘the best governed Black society in the world’.

“Since Independence, we Barbadians have sought constantly to improve our systems of law and governance so as to ensure they best reflect our characteristics and values as a nation.”


#Newsworthy…

Meghan Markle, Harry repay taxpayers in United kingdom.

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The repayment comes as Harry and Meghan seek to forge new careers for themselves and attain financial independence.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have refunded British taxpayers 2.4 million pounds ($3.2m), the cost of renovating their United Kingdom home, in line with a commitment they made after announcing in January they would step back from royal duties.

The refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, a house within the grounds of Queen Elizabeth’s Windsor Castle west of London, had been criticised by some British media as too expensive.

The repayment comes as Harry and Meghan, an American former actress, seek to forge new careers for themselves and attain greater financial independence. They announced last week they had signed a contract with Netflix to produce content for the streaming platform.

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Officially known as the duke and duchess of Sussex, the couple has moved to California but will keep Frogmore Cottage as their home when they come back to the UK, under the terms of their agreement with the queen, Harry’s grandmother.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the duke and duchess of Sussex, plant flowers and forget-me-nots during a visit to the Assistance League Los Angeles’s Preschool Learning Center in Los Angeles, California, United States [File: Matt Sayles/Reuters]

“A contribution has been made to the Sovereign Grant by The Duke of Sussex,” a spokesperson for the couple said, referring to a pot of taxpayer money used to fund the monarchy.

“This contribution as originally offered by Prince Harry has fully covered the necessary renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage, a property of Her Majesty The Queen, and will remain the UK residence of The Duke and his family.”

The terms of Harry and Meghan’s contract with Netflix have not been disclosed. Prior to that, the bulk of their income was coming from the private estate of Prince Charles, Harry’s father and the heir to the British throne.


#Newsworthy…

EU-UK ‘free market’ pressure mount ahead fresh brexit talks.

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EU’s chief negotiator ‘worried’ as UK reportedly plans new law to override key parts of Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Brexit trade talks have plunged into crisis on the eve of a penultimate round of negotiations in London, after the United Kingdom warned the European Union that it could effectively override the divorce deal it signed unless the bloc agrees to a free trade deal by October 15.

Tensions mounted on Monday, with chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier saying he was “worried” about negotiations, and that he will seek clarification from London about plans to renege on commitments.

The UK is reportedly planning new legislation that will override key parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement – a step that, if implemented, could jeopardise a treaty signed in January and stoke tension in Northern Ireland.

Sections of the internal market bill, due to be published on Wednesday, are expected to “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement” in areas including state aid and Northern Ireland customs, the Financial Times newspaper said on Monday, citing three people familiar with the plans.

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If no deal is agreed, both sides should “accept that and move on”, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will say later on Monday. In this scenario, the UK would have a trading relationship with the bloc like Australia’s, which would be “a good outcome”, Johnson will say.

Johnson will also say there is no sense in thinking about timelines beyond October 15.

“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on,” he will say.

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As the prospect of a no-deal Brexit loomed, sterling fell against the dollar and euro.

The UK left the EU on January 31, but talks aimed at clinching a new trade deal before the end of a status-quo transition arrangement in December have so far snagged on state aid rules and fishing.

The UK is reportedly planning new legislation that will override key parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement [File: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters]

Without a deal, nearly $1 trillion in trade between the UK and the EU could be thrown into uncertainty, including rules over everything from car parts and medicines to fruit and data.

European concern over UK’s reported plan
The reported plan to undermine the Withdrawal Agreement was condemned by parties on both sides of the Irish border and surprised some in Brussels.

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“If the UK chose not to respect its international obligations, it would undermine its international standing,” said one EU diplomat.

“Who would want to agree trade deals with a country that doesn’t implement international treaties? It would be a desperate and ultimately self-defeating strategy,” the diplomat said.

“Without correct implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, I cannot imagine the EU would conclude a treaty with a country that does not abide by its treaty commitments,” said another EU diplomat.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who played a key role in negotiating the withdrawal agreement and Northern Ireland protocol, said on Twitter that the reported move “would be a very unwise way to proceed”.

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Senior members of Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein and SDLP parties, the region’s two largest Irish nationalist groups, also criticised the UK’s reported plan.

Asked about the report in the Financial Times, British Environment Secretary George Eustice said there might be some minor “legal ambiguities” that needed to be tidied up over the Northern Irish protocol.

“We are not moving the goal posts,” he told Sky News broadcaster.

Barnier said everything that has been signed “must be respected”, as he planned to discuss the FT report with his British counterpart David Frost during this week’s talks.

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“The important thing for me is what the prime minister says and does, and what the British government itself says and does,” he said.

Regarding Northern Ireland, Barnier insisted that under the withdrawal deal it will continue to apply the EU’s single market rules, intended to avoid a “hard border” with Ireland but which would effectively create a trade border in the Irish Sea.

The move is meant to avoid reviving sectarian tensions between Ireland and Northern Ireland that were largely calmed by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

“No land border is the pre-requisite for peace since the end of the conflict … and it’s the pre-requisite for a united and coherent economy for the entire island, and also to respect the single market,” Barnier said.


#Newsworthy…

United kingdom sets deadline for ‘Free Trade’ deal with EU.

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Post-Brexit trade talks have stalled over the UK’s push for autonomy over state aid and fishing rights.

The United Kingdom has set a deadline of October 15 to strike a free-trade deal with the European Union, and if none is agreed, both sides should “accept that and move on”, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will say on Monday.

The UK left the EU on January 31, but there has been little progress on a new trade deal after a status-quo transition arrangement ends in December. Failure to reach a deal could result in the imposition of trade tariffs and customs controls for goods moving between the UK and EU.

Talks, which have stalled over the UK’s insistence that it has full autonomy over state aid and fishing, are due to resume in London on Tuesday.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said an agreement on trade needed to be reached urgently and he blamed the stalemate on the UK’s attitude.

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Johnson will say there is no sense in thinking about timelines beyond October 15.

“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on,” he will say, according to comments released by his office.

If no deal is agreed, the UK would have a trading relationship with the bloc like Australia’s, which would be “a good outcome”, Johnson will say.

The EU has been negotiating a trade agreement with Australia since 2018 but has yet to conclude a deal.

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‘Full control’
“As a government we are preparing, at our borders and at our ports, to be ready for it,” Johnson will say. “We will have full control over our laws, our rules and our fishing waters.”

The United Kingdom’s government is preparing legislation that could undermine a potential free trade agreement with the European Union, according to the Financial Times [File: Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

In that case, the UK would be ready to find sensible accommodation with the bloc on practical issues such as flights, lorry transport or scientific cooperation, according to the excerpts.

The Financial Times newspaper reported that the British government is planning legislation that will override key parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, risking the collapse of trade negotiations with Brussels.

Sections of the internal market bill, due to be published on Wednesday, are expected to “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement” in areas including state aid and Northern Ireland customs, the newspaper said, citing three people familiar with the plans.

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A source told the newspaper that the move could “clearly and consciously” undermine the agreement on Northern Ireland – a part of the UK – that Johnson signed last October to avoid a return to a hard border with the neighbouring Republic of Ireland.

The UK’s Brexit negotiator David Frost said on Sunday that the British government was not scared of a no-deal exit at the end of the year.

Johnson will say there is still a deal to be had based on a standard free trade agreement if the EU is ready to rethink its current position.

“But we cannot and will not compromise on the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country to get it,” he will say.


#Newsworthy…

Birmingham stabbing: One lose to death – Police.

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Police said a murder inquiry had been launched but there was no suggestion that this was a ‘terror-related’ attack.

One man was killed and two people critically injured during a “random” stabbing attack in Britain’s second city of Birmingham, West Midlands Police said on Sunday.

Chief Superintendent Steve Graham said a murder inquiry had been launched but there was “no suggestion at all that this was terror-related.

“It does appear to be a random attack,” he added.

Police had earlier said there was a “major incident” after reports surfaced of a number of people injured in stabbings early on Sunday.

“We can confirm that at approximately 12:30am today [Sunday], we were called to reports of a stabbing in Birmingham city centre,” police said in a statement.

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“A number of other stabbings were reported in the area shortly after and “this has been declared a major incident”, the statement added.

Footage aired on British television news channels showed large areas of the city centre cordoned off as police officers wearing forensic suits worked at the scene.

Noble Reporters Media said the incidents occurred near the area known as the Gay Village in the centre of Birmingham, where many people had been seated at outdoor tables eating and drinking.

“Work is still going on to establish what has happened, and could take some time before we are in a position to confirm anything,” West Midlands Police said earlier on Sunday.

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“At this early stage, it would not be appropriate to speculate on the causes of the incident.”

West Midlands Police say it is too early to speculate on the causes of the incident [Phil Noble/Reuters]

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was “a very serious incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

He said he had no information suggesting the stabbings were related to terrorism.

Emergency services were at the scene to ensure the injured received medical care. Police said the response would continue “for some time” and urged people to stay away from the area.

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Cara Curran, a club promoter, said she saw multiple people fighting in the street.

“It was one group of boys against another group of boys,” she told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media, adding that “racial slurs” were being thrown.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the series of incidents in the Hurst Street area of the city centre appeared to be related but the motivation for them was not yet understood.

He urged people “to not speculate about the incident” and to “remain calm but vigilant.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Over 10% of shops in Britain ‘remain vacant’

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The UK’s retailers were struggling with high rents and online competition even before coronavirus lockdowns struck.


More than one-in-ten British shops now stand empty, reflecting recent widespread closures which are partly the result of the coronavirus crisis, a report on Thursday showed.

Researcher Springboard said the vacancy rate rose to 10.8 percent in July, from 9.8 percent in January 2020, reaching its highest level since January 2014 as Britain’s store-based retail sector, outside of food, was hit by a lockdown to counter the pandemic.

Already weak players such as Laura Ashley, Debenhams, Oasis Warehouse, Cath Kidston and Monsoon/Accessorize have all gone into administration, with the loss of thousands of jobs, while other large retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Boots and John Lewis, are also closing stores.

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Britain’s store groups were already struggling with high rents and business taxes, tight margins and online competition before the pandemic took a grip on the country’s economy.

Springboard said vacancies rose in six out of 10 areas, but by far the greatest increase was in Greater London, where the vacancy rate rose by nearly two-thirds.

“This result brings into sharp focus the difficulties faced by large cities in attracting customers back and the impact of this on our bricks and mortar retail landscape,” Springboard director Diane Wehrle said in a statement.

Springboard said that although shopper numbers improved in August for the third consecutive month, they were still down 30.8 percent from the same period in 2019.


#Newsworthy…


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle team up with Netflix Inc.

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Under the deal, whose value was not disclosed, the couple will produce content on issues that resonate with them.


The United Kingdom’s Prince Harry and his American-born wife Meghan have signed an exclusive multiyear production deal with Netflix Inc, a major step in their plan to make a living for themselves outside the royal family.

Under the deal, whose value was not disclosed, the couple will produce films and series ranging from children’s shows to scripted content, the streaming platform said on Wednesday.

The couple moved to Southern California with their infant son Archie this year after stepping back from royal duties in January and announcing plans to be more financially independent.

They said they will produce content on issues that resonate with them and that their nonprofit Archewell is focused on.

“Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope,” the couple said in a statement on Wednesday. “As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us.”

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Meghan, a former star of the USA Network television show, Suits, has no plans to return to acting under the deal.

The couple has no previous experience as producers, but Netflix said they already have several projects in development, including a nature documentary series and an animated series that celebrates inspiring women. They said they plan to highlight diversity in front of and behind the camera.

“We’re incredibly proud they have chosen Netflix as their creative home,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement.

The UK’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, arrive at the Endeavour Fund Awards in London, UK in March [File: Hannah McKay/Reuters]

The Netflix deal follows a similar pact in 2018 with former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

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NRM said Harry and Meghan had been speaking with other Hollywood companies, including Walt Disney Co and Apple Inc. Variety reported earlier this month that they had met with Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal.

Netflix last month released, Rising Phoenix, a documentary about the Paralympic Games, in which Harry, who founded the Invictus Games for wounded veterans, makes a brief appearance.

Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth, had previously teamed up with the Apple TV+ streaming service to make a documentary with Oprah Winfrey about mental health.

The documentary, which was in the works before the couple stepped back from their royal duties, has yet to be aired.

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In June, the couple signed with the Harry Walker Agency in New York, which serves as an agent for lectures by clients such as former US Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as Oprah Winfrey.

Harry and Meghan are expected to speak together and individually on issues such as racial justice, gender equity, the environment, and mental health.

The couple recently bought a mansion in the celebrity enclave of Montecito, north of Los Angeles, which is more sheltered from media attention.

Since arriving in California in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, they have undertaken some low-profile charity work, handing out supplies to families in need.

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, REUTERS NEWS AGENCY


#Newsworthy…

Just in: Protest full London over increasing ‘Racism’ #BLM

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Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters marched through the streets of London, blocking traffic outside Notting Hill tube station and lying down in the road staging die-in.

The “Million People March” is advocating against racial injustice and is taking place instead of this year’s Notting Hill carnival.

Organisers have said the event is more important than ever amid the worldwide campaign for justice after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis.

Naomi Bennett, protester and nurse spoke to the press;

“I’ve known about deaths in custody of black people, from when I was, from back in the 90s. We’ve been protesting all these years. Fortunately the George Floyd (death), has just highlighted that to the rest of the world. Now this is a fight that is not new to black people in this country.”

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Aside from highlighting racial injustice in the UK, organisers said the march was also to denounce forthcoming government spending on prisons.

The “Million People March” was held in place of the annual Notting Hill Carnival, which will be streamed online this year due to coronavirus restrictions.

Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street fair, tracing its roots to the late 1950s.

The Million People March comes the day after thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London to protest against lockdown restrictions and the wearing of face masks.


#Newsworthy…