Wednesday, 13 June 2018: Leave donor Arron Banks abruptly ends MPs‘ questioning session, May defuses revolt in parliament over Brexit plans, Italy sends migrant convoy to Spain, Greece and Macedonia reach deal to end decades-old name dispute


Leave donor Arron Banks abruptly ends MPs‘ questioning session: A high profile Commons committee hearing about fake news was brought to an abrupt halt when two chief witnesses stood up and left, saying they were late for a lunch. Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore, two supporters of the Leave.EU campaign, were quizzed for three hours over the conduct of their campaign in the 2016 EU referendum. In often spikey exchanges Banks and Wigmore had accused the whole committee of being Remain supporters with a vested interest in trying to discredit the Brexit campaign. Questions about the Brexit donor’s engagement with the deal came towards the end of a three-hour hearing. Banks eventually walked out of the hearing, refusing to answer five more minutes of questions because he had a lunch with the Democratic Unionist party MPs Ian Paisley Jr and Sammy Wilson and had previously been told the proceedings were close to a conclusion. MPs repeatedly questioned Banks about the sources of his wealth, prompting the insurance entrepreneur to deny that any of it came from Russia.,

New UK business visa will accept people without degrees: Foreign entrepreneurs could find it easier to come to the UK to set up businesses after the government confirmed plans to introduce a new startup visa, which it said would begin welcoming people without a university education and improve the application process. The announcement came in the wake of Prime Minister Theresa May, the architect of the “hostile environment” immigration policy, defending her government’s response to the Windrush scandal. The Home Office, which revealed the plans on Tuesday evening, said the new visa would launch from next spring and, unlike the current version, would be open to people who do not have a degree.

Renshaw admits planning to murder MP Rosie Cooper: An alleged member of a banned neo Nazi group has admitted planning to murder a Labour MP in an act of what he termed „white jihad“, a jury has heard. Jack Renshaw pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to preparing an act of terrorism by buying a machete to kill West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper. He also admitted making a threat to kill police officer Victoria Henderson. Renshaw, of Skelmersdale, Lancashire, is one of six men on trial who deny being in the group National Action. Prosecutors told the jury that National Action had supported the murder of MP Jo Cox in June 2016.

Economy: Wage growth slows despite unemployment fall
N. Ireland: DUP ‚fines politicians for media interviews‘
Enda Kenny: Former Irish prime minister ‚appalled‘ at state of British politics
Drugs policy: MPs condemn UK cannabis laws after epileptic boy’s medication seized


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May defuses revolt in parliament over Brexit plans: British Prime Minister Theresa May defused a rebellion in parliament over her Brexit plans on Tuesday. By a vote of 324 to 298, UK lawmakers rejected a move to give the House of Commons power to send the British government back to the negotiating table if MPs don’t like the terms of the Brexit deal. Just moments before voting began, the prime minister held 11th-hour talks with more than 14 Tory rebels in her Commons office, after which they received personal assurances that she would agree to the broad thrust of their proposals. Brexit campaigners still voiced concern that the concession may open the door to the EU trying to force Britain into retaining the closest possible ties with the bloc by weakening the government’s hand in the talks. Pro-EU lawmakers, however, welcomed it as a signal that the government was moving towards ruling out a hardline „no deal“ Brexit. Meanwhile, the government has suffered its first resignation over Brexit, with Justice Minister Phillip Lee calling for a change in strategy. Lee warned the current approach would damage businesses in his Bracknell constituency. He accused the government of trying to limit parliament’s role and called for another referendum once ministers‘ chosen path becomes clear.,,,

EU to triple spending targeting illegal migration: The EU will establish a 10,000-strong standing corp of guards to patrol its land and sea borders under plans that will see the bloc triple its spending to 5 billion euros a year on targeting illegal migration into the bloc, the EU Commission has announced. The Commission insisted, however, that it would not fund the installation of fences on the EU’s borders. A new separate fund for integrated border management will be created and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will be further strengthened. The new border fund will also help member states carry out customs controls by financing customs control equipment. The building of new border infrastructure including scanners, automated number plate recognition systems, and mobile laboratories for sample analysis, will also be prioritised, along with the establishment of teams of sniffer dogs.,

Trump and Kim signed agreement: Following their private meeting and a meeting with their delegations in Singapore on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have signed an agreement. The deal said the two countries would co-operate towards new relations, while the US would provide security guarantees to North Korea. The summit centred on nuclear disarmament and reducing tensions. On nuclear weapons, Kim reaffirmed his firm acommitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. Observers say the document lacks substance, in particular on how denuclearisation would be achieved. Trump said the US has agreed to stop running military exercises in neighbouring South Korea as part of its agreement with North Korea, which in turn pledged to destroy a major missile engine testing site. Trump also expressed a desire to eventually remove the thousands of American stationed on the Korean peninsula, another point of contention for North Korea. Trump has said he will absolutely invite Kim to the White House after saying they developed „a very special bond“ during their summit in Singapore.,,,

Reactions to Trump-Kim summit: US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un were all smiles on Tuesday as they hailed the progress they said they had made during their historic meeting in Singapore. However, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged caution on the back of Tuesday’s meeting, saying that North Korea’s policies to date offered good reason for mistrust. Many European leaders were critical of the meeting and Trump and Kim’s agreements to cancel military exercises and move toward demilitarisation. Guy Verhofstadt, a European parliamentarian from Belgium, tweeted his doubts about legitimising a dictator with a non-binding deal that he called a „recycled version of a former agreement in 1990“. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, however, said the summit was a crucial and necessary step to build upon the positive developments achieved in inter-Korean relations and on the peninsula so far. UN chief Antonio Guterres urged the parties „to seize this momentous opportunity“. China suggested that sanctions relief could be considered for North Korea.,,,,

Louboutin wins EU court battle over distinctive red soles: The European Union’s top court backed the fashion brand in a decision on Tuesday, ruling that its use of the iconic red color means that its shoes can be trademarked. The judges at the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) did not follow the advice of the advocate general who said in February that the red color could not be considered as being separate from the shape of the sole. The legal case dates to 2012, when Louboutin sued a Dutch retail chain for selling its own version of red-soled stilettos. The Dutch company has argued that it should be allowed to sell the shoes because EU law prohibits the trademark of products with common shapes, such as shoes. The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled otherwise on Tuesday.,

Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE): Civil Liberties MEPs want EU-US Privacy Shield suspended by September
Drinking fountains: EU Parliament to phase out plastic water bottles
Democratic Republic of the Congo: War crimes judges order release of Congolese ex-vice president Bemba


It is the first time since 1945 that an American President has not seen it as an American strategic interest to work hard to ensure a vibrant and unified Europe and a robust transatlantic relationship.
In the eyes of the EU Commission, US President Donald Trump’s unpredictability has increased the pressure on Europe to pass important reforms by the end of the month. The EU states must take their fate more into their own hands, said Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans on Tuesday in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.


Italy sends migrant convoy to Spain: Italy sent hundreds of migrants towards Spain in a small naval convoy on Tuesday after shutting its own ports to them, sparking a war of words with France that exposed EU tensions over immigration. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s new interior minister and head of the far-right League, has said his decision not to accept the migrant boat is aimed at forcing other European states to help bear the strain. However, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the decision to block the Aquarius, saying that under international law Italy should have taken the migrants in. Separately, France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told French lawmakers that the new Italian government had chosen to not respect its international obligations in terms of security for the people. Spain unexpectedly offered on Monday to take in the group of mainly sub-Saharan Africans, who were picked up off the Libyan coast over the weekend. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has invited his Italian counterpart, Matteo Salvini, to Berlin to discuss a common proposal on the protection of external borders, according to the Italian interior ministry.,,

Greece and Macedonia reach deal to end decades-old name dispute: Macedonia reached a deal with Greece on Tuesday to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia in order to end a decades-long dispute. Athens contends that the name Macedonia represents a territorial claim over Greece’s northern province, also named Macedonia. The dispute has kept Macedonia from joining Nato and the EU, organisations where Greece has veto power over admissions, like all members. Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev reiterated during a press conference his pledge to hold a referendum on the new name in the fall. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that all of Greece’s concerns had been addressed with the new name. The name Macedonia already belongs to a northern region of Greece that includes the country’s second city Thessaloniki. By adopting the same identity in 1991, the new Slavic nation infuriated many Greeks, who suspected their northern neighbour of territorial ambitions.,

Investigator removed from journalist murder case: The lead investigator into the murder of Malta journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia must be removed from the case because of a conflict of interest, a judge ruled on Tuesday. The investigator, Maltese Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta, is the husband of government minister Justyne Caruana and also sat on the board of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit. Both the government and FIAU were targets of critical reports by the anti-corruption journalist, and Caruana Galizia’s family had long-demanded that Valletta be pulled from the case. Galizia was killed by a car bomb in October. Three men have been charged with her murder and have pleaded not guilty. The police say they are still looking for the suspects.

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Three presidents inaugurate TANAP pipeline in Turkey: The presidents of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia inaugurated the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) on Tuesday, a key section of Europe’s long-delayed Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), according to announcements made in the three country’s media. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ilham Aliyev and Giorgi Margvelashvili attended the opening ceremony in the city in Central Turkey. The Southern Gas Corridor consists of three pipelines: the South Caucasus pipeline across Azerbaijan and Georgia, the TANAP pipeline across Turkey, and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) across Greece and Albania, with an offshore section to southern Italy. TANAP, with around $8.5 billion of investment, will deliver 6 billion cubic meters per year of Azeri gas to Turkey and 10 billion bcm to Europe. The European part of the project is expected to become operational in 2020.

Germany: Merkel gets support on migration from Austria’s Sebastian Kurz

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Court cuts prison sentence for King’s brother-in-law: Spain’s Supreme Court on Tuesday cut a more-than six-year jail sentence for the King’s brother-in-law to five years and 10 months for charges including tax fraud and embezzlement after an appeal. Inaki Urdangarin was found guilty and sentenced to six years and three months in February last year for using royal connections to overcharge regional governments through public contracts to stage sports and tourist events and with tax fraud. An investigation launched in 2011 focused on the financing of his nonprofit foundation, the Noos Institute, on whose board Princess Cristina sat, and a real estate company, Aizoon, which the royal couple co-owned. Eventually, Urdangarin and his business partners were accused of embezzling more than $7 million.,



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