Author: Fworld

Leaked UK Memos Warn of Food, Drug Shortages in Brexit Chaos

Secret British government documents have warned of serious disruptions across the country in the event that the U.K. leaves the European Union without a trade deal on Oct. 31, according to a report.The Sunday Times newspaper published what it said was what the British government expects in the case of a sudden, “no-deal” Brexit. Among the most serious: “significant” disruptions to the supply of drugs and medicine, a decrease in the availability of fresh food and even potential fresh water shortages due to possible interruptions of imported water treatment chemicals.Although the grim scenarios reportedly outlined in the government documents have long been floated by academics and economists, they’ve been repeatedly dismissed as scaremongering by Brexit proponents.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is ready to leave the EU regardless of whether he is able to renegotiate the Brexit deal struck with Brussels by his predecessor, Theresa May.His own officials, however, have warned that with a no-deal Brexit, the sharing of law enforcement data and the health of Britain’s crucial financial services industry could be in jeopardy after Oct. 31.The documents published by the Times also quote officials as warning that up to 85% of all trucks wouldn’t be ready for French customs at the critical English Channel crossing that day, causing lines that could stretch out for days. Some 75% of all drugs coming into Britain arrive via that crossing, the memos warned, “making them particularly vulnerable to severe delays.”The officials foresee “critical elements” of the food supply chain being affected that would “reduce availability and choice and increase the price, which will affect vulnerable groups.”Britain’s Cabinet Office didn’t return a message seeking comment on the documents, but Michael Gove, the British minister in charge of no-deal preparations, insisted that the files represented a “worst case scenario.”Very “significant steps have been taken in the last 3 weeks to accelerate Brexit planning,” he said in a message posted to Twitter.But the documents, which are titled “planning assumptions,” mention a “base scenario,” not a “worst case” one. The Times quoted an unnamed Cabinet Office source as saying the memos were simply realistic assessments of what was most likely to happen.The opposition Labour Party, which is trying to delay Brexit and organize a government of national unity, held up the report as another sign that no-deal must be avoided.“It seems to me is what we’ve seen is a hard-headed assessment of reality, that sets out in really stark terms what a calamitous outcome of no-deal Brexit would mean for the United Kingdom,” lawmaker Nick Thomas-Symonds told Sky News television. “The government is reckless in the way it’s been pushing forward with no-deal planning in this way.”In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country is ready for Brexit, even without a deal to smooth the transition.Merkel said Sunday during an open house at the chancellery in Berlin that she would “try everything in my power to find solutions” and that “I believe that it would be better to leave with an agreement than without one.”But she added that “should it come to that we are prepared for this eventuality too.”

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Migrants Jump off Rescue Boat to Try to Reach Italian Island

Several migrants jumped into the sea from a Spanish rescue boat Sunday in a thwarted bid to reach shore in Italy, where the government’s hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has refused to let the 107 passengers disembark.“We have been warning for days, desperation has its limits,” said Open Arms founder Oscar Camps, who released a video showing four migrants wearing orange life vests swimming toward Lampedusa island. Crew members from the humanitarian group’s ship swam quickly toward them so they could be brought back aboard.In the evening, Open Arms urgently requested permission to enter Lampedusa’s port so the migrants, aboard for 17 days, could finally get off. It said their psychological and physical conditions are “at risk.”“If the worst happens, Europe and Salvini will be responsible,” the charity said in a tweet.In its formal request made by the boat’s captain, Marc Reig Creus, Open Arms also offered an alternative solution: to transfer the 107 onto another, “adequate” ship that could swiftly reach the Spanish port of Algeciras, where Spain has said the migrants could disembark, given the dramatic situation of passengers and crew.Open Arms told Italian authorities including prosecutors that the situation aboard “has become unmanageable,” adding that the migrants are “prey to frequent anxiety and panic attacks.”Salvini has denied docking permission because he contends charity rescue boats essentially facilitate the smuggling of migrants from the traffickers’ base in Libya. Salvini’s resolve has seen previous similar standoffs end with disembarkation either ultimately taking place in Italy or elsewhere in Europe.On Sunday, Spain offered one of its ports for the migrants to come ashore, but Open Arms said it would be absurd to undertake a journey, that could take perhaps a week, with the migrants.For days, Open Arms has been anchored off Lampedusa, a fishing and vacation island between Sicily and northern Africa. The boat initially had 147 migrants aboard when it reached Italian waters. In the last few days, 40 migrants have transferred by Italian coast guard vessels to Lampedusa, including a few who were ailing and 27 believed to be minors.After the migrants who had jumped from the ship were back aboard, several female migrants wailed or pressed their hands to their head as if in disbelief. A few of the male migrants could be seen gesturing and shouting angrily, while crew members tried to calm tempers.With Salvini challenging the survival of Italy’s populist government in a push for an early election he hopes will give him the premiership, the minister is hardening his already-stiff resolve to keep humanitarian ships from bringing rescued migrants to Italy. His League’s party blames migrants for crime, and its popularity among voters has been soaring.A Norwegian-flagged ship, Ocean Viking, operated by two French humanitarian groups, has been sailing for days with 356 rescued migrants aboard between Malta and Lampedusa and other tiny Italian island, Linosa, awaiting assignment of a safe port. Salvini vowed to block that ship, too.“Whoever hangs tough wins,” Salvini said. “In Italy there’s no place for traffickers.”Open Arms carried out its first rescue of this group 17 days earlier, plucking migrants to safety from smugglers’ unseaworthy dinghies off Libya.Seeking to break the standoff, Spain on Sunday offered a far southern port, Algeciras, just west of Gibraltar, to Open Arms, even while acknowledging that the harbor is distant and unsuitable to disembark so many migrants.The office of Spain’s caretaker prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said the offer reflected the “emergency situation” on the boat and Salvini’s “unconceivable response” in refusing docking.“But right now, Spain is the only country ready to receive (the boat),” Sanchez’ office said.But a spokeswoman for the Spanish NGO, Laura Lanuza, said undertaking such a long voyage to Spain would be “crazy.”“There is anxiety, bouts of violence, control is becoming increasingly difficult,” she said. “To embark on a six-day sailing with these people on board who are at the very limit of their possibilities would be crazy. We can’t put their health and lives at risk.”Salvini earlier on Sunday told the ship to go to Spain, and, in a tweet, contended that Open Arms was staying anchored off Lampedusa “just to provoke me and Italy.”Spain and five other countries have offered to take the migrants, dividing them among themselves, but that didn’t change Salvini’s mind against docking.Open Arms contended that Salvini is using the 107 migrants for “xenophobic and racist propaganda.”In a separate tweet, Camps blasted Salvini of exploiting the lives of migrants for political gain. “What more does @matteosalvinimi need for his political campaign? Deaths?”On Tuesday, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte addresses the Senate, where Salvini’s party has submitted a no-confidence vote against him, even though the League is the 14-month-old, government’s junior coalition partner. Conte could resign, possibly paving the way for an election in a couple of months just as Salvini’s popularity is soaring in opinion polls.

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Charity Rejects Spanish Offer to Take in African Migrants that Italy Rejected

Last update: 11:30 a.m.A Spanish humanitarian group on Sunday rejected Spain’s offer to take in more than 100 mostly African migrants aboard a charity rescue ship that Italy had refused to let dock, saying it was too dangerous to sail that far.”We are in a state of extreme humanitarian emergency,” a spokeswoman for the Open Arms charity said. “What they need is to be disembarked now. It is unthinkable to navigate for six days; that is what it would takes for us to arrive at Algeciras,” a Spanish port.The migrants were picked up by the Open Arms boat off the coast of Libya, but have been stranded off the shores of Italy for two weeks. Anti-immigrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has refused to let the migrants disembark on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, part of his crackdown on charity rescue boats he claims facilitate the smuggling of migrants by human traffickers based in Libya.Spain said it was “inconceivable” that Italy refused to accept the migrants, ordering its port of Algeciras to be ready to receive the Open Arms boat.Open Arms, a Spanish-based charity that undertakes sea rescues of those trying to reach Europe as they flee from war, persecution or poverty, accused Salvini of using the 107 migrants for “xenophobic and racist propaganda.” FILE – Migrants are evacuated by Italian Coast guards from the Open Arms Spanish humanitarian boat at the coasts of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Aug. 17, 2019.The office of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the situation aboard the vessel was “urgent” and “untenable” for the 107 migrants on board, including two children.The rescue charity said, “Spanish ports are not the closest or the safest for Open Arms… but for now Spain is the only country willing to accept it.” But then it turned down Madrid’s offer.Desperate to reach Europe, four migrants in orange life vests jumped into the waters off Lampedusa and tried to swim ashore, but crew members quickly caught up with them and brought them back to the ship.The rescue boat originally had 147 migrants aboard, but Italy allowed 40 to come ashore, including a few who were sick and 27 who said they were minors.

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Merkel: We’re prepared for Any Brexit Outcome

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday that she would meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday evening to discuss Britain’s planned departure from the European Union, adding that Berlin was also prepared for a disorderly Brexit.Johnson is seeking to persuade European Union leaders to
reopen Brexit talks or face the prospect of its second-largest
member leaving abruptly on Oct. 31 with no deal in place to
mitigate the economic shock — a move that businesses expect
would cause major disruption.
“We are glad of every visit, and you have to talk, and you
have to find good solutions,” Merkel said during a panel
discussion at the Chancellery.
“We are prepared for any outcome, we can say that, even if
we do not get an agreement. But at all events I will make an
effort to find solutions — up until the last day of
negotiations,” she added.
“I think it’s always better to leave with an agreement than
without one. But if that’s not possible, we’ll be prepared for
the alternative as well.”The Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that Johnson would
tell Merkel that the British parliament could not stop Brexit. 

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Gibraltar Rejects US Pressure to Hold Iranian Oil Tanker

Authorities in Gibraltar on Sunday rejected the United States’ latest request not to release a seized Iranian supertanker, clearing the way for the vessel to set sail after being detained last month for allegedly attempting to breach European Union sanctions on Syria.The ship was expected to leave Sunday night, according to a statement on Twitter by Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to Britain.
 
The tanker’s release comes amid a growing confrontation between Iran and the West after President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago.
 
Shortly after the tanker’s detention in early July near Gibraltar — a British overseas territory  — Iran seized the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which remains held by the Islamic Republic. Analysts had said the Iranian ship’s release by Gibraltar could see the Stena Impero go free.
 
Gibraltar’s government said Sunday it was allowing the Iranian tanker’s release because “The EU sanctions regime against Iran  — which is applicable in Gibraltar  — is much narrower than that applicable in the US.”
In a last-ditch effort to stop the release, the U.S. unsealed a warrant Friday to seize the vessel and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil, citing violations of U.S. sanctions as well as money laundering and terrorism statutes.
 
U.S. officials told reporters that the oil aboard the ship was worth some $130 million and that it was destined for a designated terror organization to conduct more terrorism.
 
The unsealed court documents argued that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are the ship’s true owners through a network of front companies.
 
Authorities in Gibraltar said Sunday that, unlike in the U.S., the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is not designated a terrorist organization under EU, U.K. or Gibraltar law.
 
The Iranian ship was detained while sailing under a Panamanian flag with the name Grace 1. As of Sunday, it had been renamed the Adrian Darya 1 and had hoisted an Iranian flag. Workers were seen painting the new name on the side of the ship Saturday.
 
Iran has not disclosed the Adrian Darya 1’s intended destination and has denied it was ever sailing for Syria.
 
The chief minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, said he had been assured in writing by the Iranian government that the tanker wouldn’t unload its cargo in Syria.
 
Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to Britain, said in a series of tweets that “round-the-clock efforts to carry out port formalities and deploy the full crew onto the ship” had taken place since Gibraltar lifted the vessel’s detention Thursday.
 
The Astralship shipping agency in Gibraltar, which has been hired to handle paperwork and arrange logistics for the Adrian Darya 1, had told The Associated Press that a new crew of Indian and Ukrainian nationals were replacing the sailors on board.
 
Astralship managing director Richard De la Rosa said his company had not been informed about the vessel’s next destination.
 
Messages seeking comment from the Iranian Embassy in London were not immediately returned.
  

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Times, Citing Official Documents: UK Faces Food, Fuel and Drugs Shortages in No-Deal Brexit

Britain will face shortages of fuel, food and medicine if it leaves the European Union without a transition deal, jamming ports and requiring a hard border in Ireland, official government documents leaked to the Sunday Times show.The Times said the forecasts compiled by the Cabinet Office set out the most likely aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit rather than the worst case scenarios.They said up to 85% of lorries using the main channel crossings “may not be ready” for French customs, meaning disruption at ports would potentially last up to three months before the flow of traffic improves.The government believes a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic will be likely as current plans to avoid widespread checks will prove unsustainable, the Times said.

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UK Parliament Can’t Stop Brexit, Johnson to Tell Macron, Merkel

LONDON – Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that his nation’s Parliament cannot stop Brexit and a new deal must be agreed if Britain is to avoid leaving the EU without one. In his first trip abroad as leader, Johnson is due to meet his European counterparts ahead of a G-7 summit on Aug. 24-26 in Biarritz, France. He will say that Britain is leaving the European Union on Oct. 31, with or without a deal, and that Parliament cannot block that, according to a Downing Street source. The United Kingdom is heading toward a constitutional crisis at home and a showdown with the EU as Johnson has repeatedly vowed to leave the bloc on Oct. 31 without a deal unless it agrees to renegotiate the Brexit divorce. Refusing to reconsiderAfter 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 to in November. The prime minister is coming under pressure from politicians across the political spectrum to prevent a disorderly departure, with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn vowing to bring down Johnson’s government in early September to delay Brexit. It is, however, unclear if lawmakers have the unity or power to use the British Parliament to prevent a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 — likely to be the United Kingdom’s most significant move since World War II. 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 shock waves through financial markets and weaken London’s claim to be the world’s preeminent financial center. 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 experiment in integration that has led to Europe falling behind China and the United States. 

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Wildfire Prompts Evacuations in Canary Islands 

TEJEDA, SPAIN – A wildfire in the Canary Islands led to the evacuation of a small town in Gran Canaria island on Saturday, and officials said the blaze had a “great potential” to spread. The wildfire started in the town of Valleseco, and an emergency area was also declared for the municipalities of Moya and Tejeda. In the latter, most parts of the town of 1,900 inhabitants were evacuated for precautionary reasons and roads were closed, the regional government said. Seven helicopters, as well as firefighters on the ground, were battling the blaze. Tejeda had been evacuated last week when another wildfire affected the area. 

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