Deadline on Brexit Deal Approaching, French Cardinal Jailed, and Albanian Unrest

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Deal

UK

EU sets Friday deadline for UK to settle on plan

Negotiations on the conditions for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union continue and the EU have made a deadline of Friday, March 8th, for British leaders to settle on a plan. The UK’s Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, has assured that negotiations with the Union will carry on and a deal will be settled before the final meaningful vote on the withdrawal bill on the 12th, before the official leaving date of the 29th.

If the deal is not passed on Tuesday, the House will be asked the following day to vote on whether the UK should leave without a deal. Failing that, Thursday will see the vote on whether to extend Article 50, which will keep Britain in the EU for a few months in order to reach some kind of deal.

Prime Minister Theresa May is currently in talks with the EU to potentially add extra-bill amendments that would ensure that the Backstop, the transitional arrangement of the withdrawal bill, doesn’t keep Britain in the Union indefinitely. Brexiteers are concerned that the bill represents ‘Brexit In Name Only’, and is plausibly worse than staying in the EU, as the UK will be subject to its rules and financial arrangements despite not having seats in European Parliament.

The deal is also unpopular amongst the opposition. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been meeting with Conservative MPs to discuss potential options if the PM’s deal is rejected, once again, by Parliament. Labour want the UK to remain in the customs union and the European Economic Area (EEA), representing a ‘soft’ Brexit, where the country still has close economic ties to the union. This is dubbed ‘Common Market 2.0.’

Home Secretary promises almost £1 billion into police funding to tackle knife crime

Britain is currently experiencing a knife crime crisis, especially in urban areas. Knife offenses have risen 20% just in the past year, and knife killings are at their worst since records began. Home Secretary Sajid Javid has responded by promising to pile £970 million into policing over the next year to tackle the problem.

This comes after a few years of Conservative government ‘austerity’ where around 22,000 officer posts have gone, and forces are claiming they do not have enough resources to do their jobs.

France

Archbishop sentenced for sexual abuse allegation neglect

Archbishop of Lyon, Philippe Barabarin, has received a suspended prison sentence for failing to act on allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. He will spend six-months in prison after it was revealed that he did not respond to multiple claims of abuse in his ministry in the 80’s and 90’s.

It was originally predicted that he would not be convicted as the prosecutors had claimed that the statute of limitations existed. However, as recently as 2015, the cardinal had delayed in following a directive to remove Father Bernard Preynat, who had assaulted numerous underage boys, under instructions from the Vatican to avoid a scandal. Preynat was allowed to be in contact with children for months after Barabarin was first informed.

Italy

Battle for the soul of Italian state broadcaster, as Five Star Movement want a ‘Libertarian’ bent.

The Italian state broadcaster, RAI, is currently experiencing a war over its soul as the coalition government look to enact more influence over its programming. Custom says that political parties must have their respective weight in it, proportional to their weight in parliament. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s Lega Party wants the RAI to put forward a Trumpesque ‘Italians first’ platform, while Luigi Di Maio’s Five Star Movement wants it to have a more libertarian bent.

There was controversy this week as typically left-leaning talk show host, Fabio Fazio, interviewed French President Emmanuel Macron. The interview was meant to clear the air after the Italian French ambassador was recalled to Rome over dealings with the Yellow Vest Movement. However, RAI did very little promotion for the interview, with the exception of a single Tweet. RAI is being seen as wanting to restrict the narrative.

Albania

Protestors demand Albanian Prime Minister’s resignation

Albanian parliament was hounded by thousands of protestors this week demanding for Prime Minister Edi Rama’s resignation and a snap general election. They have bugbears with alleged corruption and education costs. The ruling Socialist Party are accused of having links to organized crime. This comes as part of a so-called ‘Balkan Spring’ along with Montenegro and Serbia, who are also experiencing dissent.

You can read more from James Smith on Think Liberty here.

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