European Union


British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Friday that she “will shortly leave the job that has been the honor of my life to hold.”

The long-anticipated address, outside Downing Street, confirms that May will step down as the leader of the Conservative Party on June 7. She will remain prime minister until the party chooses a new leader, a process that will take approximately six weeks.

In many ways, May’s announcement marks a solemn end to a profoundly weak yet surprisingly stable premiership. But if the past three turbulent years of parliamentary deadlock, infighting, and division have demonstrated anything, it’s that May’s leadership ended a long time ago.

Her premiership didn’t begin that way. When May succeeded David Cameron as prime minister in July 2016, she inherited a parliamentary majority and a 20-point lead in the polls over the opposition Labour Party. She was dubbed the “New Iron Lady,” in a favorable nod to the country’s only other female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. But she also inherited a policy challenge of historic proportions: to deliver on a referendum result she didn’t support, and take Britain out of the European Union.

Whatever strength she had at the start of her premiership, she quickly lost. First, May made the consequential decision on March 29, 2017, to trigger Article 50, the EU’s time-limited exit procedure, thereby setting into motion a two-year countdown for the country’s departure. Less than a month later, in a profound miscalculation, she announced a snap general election in a bid to increase a parliamentary majority that she would ultimately come to lose. By the time negotiations with the EU formally kicked off in Brussels in July, May lacked a governing majority and, crucially, a plan. Time had already started running out.

The ill-fated call for a snap election was the beginning of the end for May. Still, she persisted—first by striving to reach a negotiated deal on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, and once more by attempting to rally enough parliamentary support behind it. If there were questions about whether the agreement had any support among members of her own party, they were soon dispelled: It did not.

Throughout it all, there were many false starts to the end of the May era. Many, many false starts. But in the end, it wasn’t the 36 cabinet resignations, the Tory infighting, or the multiple challenges to her leadership that spelled the end for this British prime minister. Rather, it was her thrice-defeated Brexit deal and her bid this week to bring it back for a fourth and final vote in Parliament.

Paradoxically, it was May’s unpopular deal with the EU that has enabled her to last this long. When the prime minister offered assurances to her Conservative Party colleagues in December that she wouldn’t lead the party into the next general election, she did so in a twin bid to avoid a no-confidence vote in her leadership and salvage her negotiated agreement with the European Union outlining the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc. Three months later, she spelled out that aim even further by pledging to step down just as soon as members of Parliament passed her deal. When she presented lawmakers with “one last chance” to deliver on Brexit by backing a new, “compromise” agreement, it was clear there was no hope for her deal passing muster in Parliament—and no hope for her.

The race to succeed May is already well under way. Whoever replaces her will undoubtedly face the same parliamentary deadlock and division that she did—and will likely face the same challenge of delivering Brexit. “He or she will have to find consensus in Parliament where I have not,” May said, calling on her successor to reach a compromise that she was ultimately never able to deliver.

“She’ll be [remembered as] the prime minister that failed to deliver Brexit,” Anand Menon, the director of the London-based research institute UK in a Changing Europe, told me. “And that was the only thing that she tried to do.”

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TEARFUL Theresa May today finally admitted her time was up and quit as Prime Minister insisting: “I’ve done my best”.

The PM was forced to resign after she failed to deliver Brexit and lost the support of her own MPs – but will continue in office as a lame duck until July.

 The PM broke down with emotion as she announced her resignation

Reuters

The PM broke down with emotion as she announced her resignation
 Mrs May could barely complete her speech on the steps of Downing Street

Dan Charity – The Sun

Mrs May could barely complete her speech on the steps of Downing Street
 The PM delivering her resignation statement

Reuters

The PM delivering her resignation statement
 Mrs May walking back into No10 after resigning

PA:Press Association

Mrs May walking back into No10 after resigning
 Philip May watching on as his wife speaks

AFP or licensors

Philip May watching on as his wife speaks

Shortly after meeting Tory “executioner” Sir Graham Brady, she addressed the nation in the spring sunshine of Downing Street – watched by adoring husband Philip – and admitted her time is up.

The PM confessed she now has no chance of ever getting her Brexit deal through Parliament but insisted “I have done my best” to deliver on the referendum result.

As Mrs May enters her final days:

Today the PM claimed she had done all she could to take Britain out of the EU with a deal, saying: “Ever since I first stepped through the door behind me as Prime Minister, I have striven to make the United Kingdom a country that works not just for a privileged few, but for everyone. And to honour the result of the EU referendum.

“If you give people a choice you have a duty to implement what they decide. I have done my best to do that.

“Sadly I have not been able to do so. I tried three times – I believe it was right to persevere even when the odds against success seemed high.”

Her voice cracking, she attempted to defend her legacy and insisted she has helped to fix Britain’s “burning injustices”.

Mrs May concluded: “I will shortly leave the job it has been the honour of my life to hold – the second female Prime Minister, but certainly not the last.

“I do so with no ill will but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.”

After her speech, the PM and Philip May drove off to spend the Bank Holiday weekend at their home in Sonning, Berkshire.

A VERY LONG GOODBYE

Mrs May will stay in office for the next two weeks, allowing her to welcome Donald Trump to the UK on his state visit, and step down as party leader on June 7.

She will then continue as interim PM until a new Tory leader is chosen, and finally leave office in July.

Even after leaving No10, she plans to stay as MP for Maidenhead until the next election scheduled for 2022.

In a snap poll, two thirds of Brits said Mrs May was right to resign – and half said she had been a “bad” or “terrible” Prime Minister.

Jeremy Corbyn today called for the new PM to trigger a snap General Election and let voters decide who should lead the country, saying: “The Prime Minister is right to have resigned. She has now accepted what the country has known for months – she cannot govern, and nor can her divided and disintegrating party.

“Parliament is deadlocked and the Conservatives offer no solutions to the other major challenges facing our country. Whoever becomes the new Conservative leader must let the people decide our country’s future, through an immediate General Election.”

The embattled Mrs May ran out of road this week after her Brexit deal collapsed and ally Andrea Leadsom stormed out of the Cabinet.

Her resignation fires the starting gun on the Tory leadership race, with Boris Johnson at the head of a crowded field of contenders.

But the next PM could face the same Brexit deadlock as Mrs May – with Parliament and the Tory party bitterly divided over how to move forward.

Today European leaders insisted there is no prospect of ripping up the withdrawal agreement and starting talks again – although Irish PM Leo Varadkar admitted he was worried about the prospects for his country.

He said: “In the next couple of months we may see the election of a Eurosceptic Prime Minister who wants to repudiate the withdrawal agreement and go for a No Deal.”

David Davis said the new leader should return to Brussels and demand the EU remove the hated backstop from the existing deal.

And Boris said: “We will leave the EU on October 31, deal or No Deal.”

Tories today rallied around to praise Mrs May for her time in office – even the ones who stabbed in her in the back and quit her Government.

This is a sad but necessary day

Steve Baker

Mrs Leadsom, whose resignation earlier this week helped lead to Mrs May’s departure, tweeted: “A very dignified speech by @theresa_may.

“An illustration of her total commitment to country and duty. She did her utmost, and I wish her all the very best.”

Hardline rebel Steve Baker said: “Very dignified statement from Theresa May, beginning to set out the many things which she has achieved in office. This is a sad but necessary day.”

Leadership candidate Dominic Raab, who is set to run to replace Mrs May, said: “Dignified as ever, @theresa_may showed her integrity. She remains a dedicated public servant, patriot and loyal Conservative.”

Boris Johnson added: “Thank you for your stoical service to our country and the Conservative Party. It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is also tipped to run for the leadership, said: “Incredibly moving and dignified speech from the Prime Minister. She has given all in service of her country. Thank you Theresa.”

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Nobody could have worked harder or had a greater sense of public duty than the Prime Minister.”

Simon Hoare, one of Mrs May’s closest allies, joked: “I hope there’s a most enormous gin awaiting the PM.”

Paying tribute to his successor, David Cameron said: “I know what it feels like when you come to realise that your leadership time has finished, that the country needs a new leader.

“It’s extremely difficult and painful to step outside Downing Street and say those things.

“She will be remembered as someone who worked very hard on our behalf. A dedicated public servant, who was passionate about the future of this country.”

‘I have done my best’: Theresa May’s resignation speech in full

Ever since I first stepped through the door behind me as Prime Minister, I have striven to make the United Kingdom a country that works not just for a privileged few, but for everyone.

And to honour the result of the EU referendum.

Back in 2016, we gave the British people a choice.

Against all predictions, the British people voted to leave the European Union.

I feel as certain today as I did three years ago that in a democracy, if you give people a choice you have a duty to implement what they decide.

I have done my best to do that.

I negotiated the terms of our exit and a new relationship with our closest neighbours that protects jobs, our security and our Union.

I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal.

Sadly, I have not been able to do so.

I tried three times.

I believe it was right to persevere, even when the odds against success seemed high.

But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new Prime Minister to lead that effort.

So I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday 7 June so that a successor can be chosen.

I have agreed with the Party Chairman and with the Chairman of the 1922 Committee that the process for electing a new leader should begin in the following week.

I have kept Her Majesty the Queen fully informed of my intentions, and I will continue to serve as her Prime Minister until the process has concluded.

It is, and will always remain, a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.

It will be for my successor to seek a way forward that honours the result of the referendum.

To succeed, he or she will have to find consensus in Parliament where I have not.

Such a consensus can only be reached if those on all sides of the debate are willing to compromise.

For many years the great humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton – who saved the lives of hundreds of children by arranging their evacuation from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia through the Kindertransport – was my constituent in Maidenhead.

At another time of political controversy, a few years before his death, he took me to one side at a local event and gave me a piece of advice.

He said, “Never forget that compromise is not a dirty word. Life depends on compromise.”

He was right.

As we strive to find the compromises we need in our politics – whether to deliver Brexit, or to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland – we must remember what brought us here.

Because the referendum was not just a call to leave the EU but for profound change in our country.

A call to make the United Kingdom a country that truly works for everyone. I am proud of the progress we have made over the last three years.

We have completed the work that David Cameron and George Osborne started: the deficit is almost eliminated, our national debt is falling and we are bringing an end to austerity.

My focus has been on ensuring that the good jobs of the future will be created in communities across the whole country, not just in London and the South East, through our Modern Industrial Strategy.

We have helped more people than ever enjoy the security of a job.

We are building more homes and helping first-time buyers onto the housing ladder – so young people can enjoy the opportunities their parents did.

And we are protecting the environment, eliminating plastic waste, tackling climate change and improving air quality.

This is what a decent, moderate and patriotic Conservative Government, on the common ground of British politics, can achieve – even as we tackle the biggest peacetime challenge any government has faced.

I know that the Conservative Party can renew itself in the years ahead.

That we can deliver Brexit and serve the British people with policies inspired by our values.

Security; freedom; opportunity.

Those values have guided me throughout my career.

But the unique privilege of this office is to use this platform to give a voice to the voiceless, to fight the burning injustices that still scar our society.

That is why I put proper funding for mental health at the heart of our NHS long-term plan.

It is why I am ending the postcode lottery for survivors of domestic abuse.

It is why the Race Disparity Audit and gender pay reporting are shining a light on inequality, so it has nowhere to hide.

And that is why I set up the independent public inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower – to search for the truth, so nothing like it can ever happen again, and so the people who lost their lives that night are never forgotten.

Because this country is a Union.

Not just a family of four nations.

But a union of people – all of us.

Whatever our background, the colour of our skin, or who we love.

We stand together.

And together we have a great future.

Our politics may be under strain, but there is so much that is good about this country. So much to be proud of. So much to be optimistic about.

I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honour of my life to hold – the second female Prime Minister but certainly not the last.

I do so with no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.

Mrs May had been warned that if she didn’t quit today, Sir Graham would start the process to force her out through a new no-confidence vote.

And Cabinet ministers threatened to bring down the Government if the PM didn’t abandon her attempts to force through the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

Meanwhile the Tories face a near-total wipeout when the Euro election results are announced on Sunday night.

This morning Mrs May faced one final blow to her authority as Helen Grant resigned as Tory party vice-chair, saying she wants to be involved in the leadership race by backing Dominic Raab.

The Prime Minister wanted her legacy to be taking Britain out of the EU, before turning to the “burning injustices” of UK society.

Instead she will remembered for her stubborn refusal to compromise and inability to unite her party.

Her last-ditch bid to save the Brexit deal by offering MPs a vote on whether to hold a second referendum proved the last nail in her coffin, triggering a Cabinet rebellion with Andrea Leadsom resigning.

Mrs May’s resignation will kickstart a furious race to replace her with Boris Johnson the favourite to take over.

Mr Raab, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove are also considered frontrunners – but as many as 20 Tory MPs could throw their hats in the ring.

Today Mr Hunt confirmed he’s planning to run for No10 while in a surprise move Sir Graham quit his 1922 Committee position to launch his own run for the leadership.

The leadership election is set to be hugely divisive for the Tory party with the two different wings attacking each other over what should happen next with Brexit.

It’s not just Theresa! Vince Cable to quit in July too

VINCE Cable today announced he will ALSO step down in late July – almost exactly the same time as Theresa May.

The Lib Dems boss revealed he’ll hand over to a successor on July 23.

He previously revealed he was planning to resign as party leader after the European Parliament elections.

Today he formally kicked off a two-month leadership election with Jo Swinson and Ed Davey favourites to replace him.

Sir Vince told members: “Our campaigning over the last three years has kept the cause of remaining in the European Union alive, and I now believe we have a strong chance of stopping Brexit.”

He took over in 2017 with the party at a low ebb having suffered two poor General Election results.

But the Lib Dems have since risen in the polls, with a strong showing in the recent local elections.

 Mrs May admitted she had failed to deliver Brexit

London News Pictures

Mrs May admitted she had failed to deliver Brexit
 May faces the world's press in Downing Street

Rex Features

May faces the world’s press in Downing Street
 The PM looked broken and her voice shook as she ended her speech

AFP or licensors

The PM looked broken and her voice shook as she ended her speech
 May breaks down as she turns from the cameras after her emotional speech

SWNS:South West News Service

May breaks down as she turns from the cameras after her emotional speech
 The PM and Philip leaving Downing Street to head to Berkshire

London News Pictures

The PM and Philip leaving Downing Street to head to Berkshire

What next after Theresa May quits?

THERESA May’s resignation today kickstarts the Tory leadership election.

The Prime Minister will formally stand down as party leader on June 7 – but will stay in place while the new PM is being chosen, rather than handing over to an interim chief such as David Lidington.

The leadership contest, overseen by party chairman Brandon Lewis, will take around six weeks.

Any Tory MP can enter the race, and the list of contenders is then whittled down by the parliamentary party.

MPs vote in multiple rounds, eliminating one candidate each time until just two are left.

The party’s 120,000 activists then choose behind the final shortlist of two, with the winner declared leader and Prime Minister.

When Mrs May became leader, she didn’t have to submit to a vote of members because Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the race.

So the last time activists have had a say on the leadership was 2005, when David Cameron defeated David Davis.

Former PM David Cameron ‘feels desperately sorry’ for Theresa May after resignation announcement

Today top Brexiteer Steve Baker insisted the next leader must be someone who is fully committed to our EU departure and ready to leave with No Deal.

Jacob Rees-Mogg added: “A new leader can get us out of the EU on October 31, that is in law. Once that’s happened, then we can move on to other issues.”

But the veteran Europhile Ken Clarke hit back, saying: “The idea that Conservative and DUP MPs will all come together behind a Nigel Farage-type figure is nonsense.”

 Mrs May's top team watching her resignation statement

AFP or licensors

Mrs May’s top team watching her resignation statement
 The PM made her statement in front of her official residence

Reuters

The PM made her statement in front of her official residence
 The PM at the end of her statement

AFP or licensors

The PM at the end of her statement
Jeremy Corbyn calls for an immediate General Election after PM Theresa May’s resignation


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LONDON (AP) — Bowing to the inevitable, Theresa May announced Friday that she will step down as U.K. Conservative Party leader in two weeks, admitting defeat in her attempt to take Britain out of the European Union and sparking a contest to replace her as prime minister.

May said she will quit as head of the governing party on June 7 but stay as caretaker prime minister until the new leader is chosen, a process the Conservatives aim to complete by late July.

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election, and will take up the task of trying to secure Britain’s exit from the EU.

May, who has been battling to unite her fractious party ever since she took the helm almost three years ago, said “I have done my best.” But she conceded that had not been enough.

Her voice breaking, May said in a televised statement outside 10 Downing St. that she would soon be leaving a job that it has been “the honor of my life to hold.”

May became prime minister the month after the U.K. voted in June 2016 to leave the European Union, and her premiership has been consumed by the attempt to deliver on that verdict.

May spent more than a year and a half negotiating an exit agreement with the EU, only to see it rejected three times by Britain’s Parliament.

Many Conservative lawmakers came to see May as the main obstacle to leaving the bloc, although her replacement will face the same issue: a Parliament deeply divided over whether to exit the EU, and how close a relationship to seek with Europe after it does.

Now she has quit over her failure to take Britain out of the EU on the scheduled date of March 29. Britain is currently due to leave the EU on Oct. 31, but Parliament has yet to approve divorce terms.

“I negotiated the terms of our exit and a new relationship with our closest neighbors that protects jobs, our security and our Union,” May said. “I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal. Sadly, I have not been able to do so.”

“It is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort,” she added.

Multiple contenders are already jockeying to replace her and take up the challenge of securing Britain’s EU exit. The early front-runner is Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary and strong champion of Brexit.

Pressure on May reached breaking point this week as House of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom quit and several Cabinet colleagues expressed doubts about the bill she planned to put before Parliament in a fourth attempt to secure lawmakers’ backing for her Brexit blueprint.

Leadsom, another likely contender to replace May, joined colleagues in paying tribute to the departing leader. She tweeted that May’s “dignified speech” had been “an illustration of her total commitment to country and duty. She did her utmost, and I wish her all the very best.”

Johnson, whose relentless criticism helped push May out of the door, tweeted: “Thank you for your stoical service to our country and the Conservative Party. It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit.”

But Johnson, or any other successor, will face a tough challenge to unite a country and a Parliament still deeply divided over the country’s relationship with Europe.

The next British leader is likely to be a staunch Brexiteer, who will try to renegotiate the divorce deal, and if that fails to leave the bloc without an agreement on departure terms.

Most businesses and economists think that would cause economic turmoil and plunge Britain into recession. Parliament has voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit, though it remains the legal default option.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, an opponent of Brexit, tweeted that May’s exit “will not solve the Brexit mess that the Tories have created. … The prospect of an even more hardline Brexiteer now becoming PM and threatening a no deal exit is deeply concerning.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker praised May as “a woman of courage” for whom he has great respect.

EU spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said Juncker would “equally respect and establish working relations” with any new British leader. But the bloc insists it will not renegotiate the Brexit deal.

“We have set out our position on the withdrawal agreement and on the political declaration,” Andreeva said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted that the “agreement reached between the EU and the United Kingdom for an ordered Brexit remains on the table.”

Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman, Martina Fietz, said the German chancellor noted May’s decision “with respect” and would continue to work closely with her successor for “an orderly exit.”

In an emotional departure speech, with close aides and her husband Philip looking on, May said “I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honor of my life to hold – the second female prime minister but certainly not the last.”

“I do so with no ill will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.”

___

Associated Press writers Gregory Katz in London, Raf Casert in Brussels and David Rising in Berlin contributed.

___

Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

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The PM was forced to resign after she failed to deliver Brexit and lost the support of her own MPs – but will continue in office as a lame duck until July.

Shortly after meeting Tory “executioner” Sir Graham Brady, she addressed the nation in the spring sunshine of Downing Street – watched by adoring husband Philip – and admitted her time is up.

The PM confessed she now has no chance of ever getting her Brexit deal through Parliament but insisted “I have done my best” to deliver on the referendum result.

As Mrs May enters her final days:

  • Boris Johnson is favourite to take over as the next Prime Minister
  • The leadership election will take around six weeks and conclude in mid-July
  • Brexit is now on pause until the new PM is in place
  • Tory MPs paid tribute to Mrs May’s resilience – even the ones who plotted against her

Today the PM claimed she had done all she could to take Britain out of the EU with a deal, saying: “Ever since I first stepped through the door behind me as Prime Minister, I have striven to make the United Kingdom a country that works not just for a privileged few, but for everyone. And to honour the result of the EU referendum.

“If you give people a choice you have a duty to implement what they decide. I have done my best to do that.

“Sadly I have not been able to do so. I tried three times – I believe it was right to persevere even when the odds against success seemed high.”

Her voice cracking, she attempted to defend her legacy and insisted she has helped to fix Britain’s “burning injustices”.

Mrs May concluded: “I will shortly leave the job it has been the honour of my life to hold – the second female Prime Minister, but certainly not the last.

Read More:
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9144415/theresa-may-resigns-brexit-tory-leadership-election/

Image Credit: Reuters

Source: The Washington Pundit

The $16 billion in aid to farmers that the Trump administration announced Friday is an increase on the $12 billion aid package last year. Administration officials said the total amount of aid was hiked and the formula for distributing it tweaked because of the broadening nature of President Trump’s trade war with China and other countries.

“We account[ed] for some other variables such as repeated distortionary trade policies by China and other countries that have contributed to the slow pace of market adjustment and trade that we’ve seen for agricultural production,” Agriculture Department chief economist Robert Johansson told agriculture industry reporters Thursday. “So that brings us to the $16 billion level.”

The bulk of the aid will be provided through the agency’s Commodity Credit Corporation, which provides price supports for farmers and doesn’t require congressional approval. The program gets $30 billion annually that can be distributed at the agriculture secretary’s discretion.

“It is using CCC funding,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters. “The president feels very strongly that the tariff revenue [from levies on China] is going to be used to support this program, which will come back out and replenish the CCC, as it does every year.”

The program’s funding is not directly tied to any tariffs, however. Congress appropriates CCC funding through the farm bill, legislation passed about once every five years to cover agriculture subsidies. The most recent version was 2018’s Agricultural Improvement Act, which totaled $867 billion.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall applauded the assistance, but said that farmers and ranchers would rather the U.S. ended the trade wars instead. “We are grateful for the work that President Trump and Secretary Perdue have devoted to this issue,” he said. “However, the real, long-term solution to our challenges in agriculture is good outcomes to current negotiations with China, Japan and the European Union, as well as congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.”

Of the $16 billion in aid this year, $14.5 billion will be provided to farmers in direct payments, the same method as the aid package last year. The formula for determining payments was tweaked, however.

Last year’s aid package provided payments to farmers based on the crops they had planted. The aid program announced Thursday will factor in a rate assigned to the county the crops were planted in. Those rates would be based on the USDA’s estimation of the economic damage done by retaliatory tariffs.

“We are looking back a number of years to look at what China has purchased from us in the past, and we’re bringing that into our baseline,” Johansson said.

Payments will go to producers of alfalfa, barley, canola, corn, peas, cotton, lentils, rice, mustard seed, dried beans, oats, peanuts, sesame seed, chickpeas, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seeds, and wheat, among other products, based on a farm’s total plantings of those crops for this year multiplied by the per-county rate. Pork producers will receive payments based on their livestock headcount, and dairy producers will receive payments based on their past production levels.

The payments will be made in up to three tranches, the first coming in late July or early August, with later payments to be determined based on market conditions. The remaining $1.4 billion will be used to purchase surplus beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and milk.

It is unclear exactly how much of last year’s $12 billion allocation was ultimately spent. Perdue told the Senate Agriculture Committee in February, “To date, [assistance] programs have provided more than $8 billion to assist with the disruption in commodity markets caused by unfair tariffs on U.S. agricultural products.”

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May backed down Thursday from plans to seek Parliament’s support for a Brexit bill already rejected by much of her Conservative Party. But she has not, as yet, caved in to demands she resign and let a new leader try to complete the U.K.’s stalled exit from the European Union.

With her authority draining away by the hour, May delayed plans to publish the EU withdrawal bill — her fourth and likely final attempt to secure Parliament’s backing for her Brexit blueprint.

Conservative lawmakers increasingly see May as an obstacle to Britain’s EU exit, although her replacement will face the same dilemma: a Parliament deeply divided over whether to leave the EU, and how close a relationship to seek with the bloc after it does.

Conservative legislators scheduled a Friday meeting, where they want May to announce her departure date.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the committee that oversees Conservative leadership races, said that if May did not agree to leave, there would be “overwhelming pressure” for a no-confidence vote in her.

If May does name an exit date, she will likely remain prime minister for several more weeks while Conservative lawmakers and members vote to choose a successor.

May’s spokesman, James Slack, said she would still be in office when U.S. President Donald Trump comes to Britain for a June 3-5 state visit.

“She looks forward to welcoming the president,” he said.

But few doubt this is the endgame for May’s term, which has been consumed by Britain’s decision to leave the EU. Senior Conservatives, including former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and several members of her Cabinet, are already jockeying for position in the coming leadership race.

House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom — another likely contender — helped seal May’s fate when she resigned late Wednesday, saying she could not support May’s withdrawal bill. The draft contains measures aimed at winning support from the opposition, including a promise to let Parliament vote on whether to hold a new EU membership referendum.

That concession, which could ultimately lead to Brexit being halted, was the final straw for many Conservative lawmakers and ministers, who also balked at May’s offer of a close customs relationship with the EU, which would limit Britain’s trade autonomy.

Leadsom said May’s Brexit plan did not “deliver on the referendum result” that saw voters in 2016 opt to leave the EU.

“No one has wanted you to succeed more than I have, but I do now urge you to make the right decisions in the interests of the country, this government and our party,” Leadsom wrote in a resignation letter to May.

May moved quickly Thursday to replace Leadsom with former Treasury minister Mel Stride.

But she also delayed the bill, which May previously said would be published Friday and put to a vote during the week of June 3.

On Thursday, the government only promised an “update” on the bill during that week.

The political turmoil weighed on the pound, which fell to $1.2601 on Thursday, its lowest point against the dollar since early January.

May met Thursday with two of her most senior ministers, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who underscored Cabinet concerns about her bill.

Slack said May was “listening to colleagues’ views” and still hoped to secure backing for her Brexit deal.

But he said delivering Brexit had “proved more challenging even than she had imagined.”

May became prime minister soon after the June 2016 EU membership referendum and has spent her entire tenure trying to deliver on that decision.

She seemed close to success when she struck a divorce agreement with the EU late last year. But lawmakers have rejected it three times, and Britain’s long-scheduled departure date of March 29 passed with the country still in the bloc.

Many Conservatives blame May for the delay, and want her replaced with a more ardent Brexiteer such as Johnson or former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.

May says another leader won’t be able to strike a better deal with the EU, which insists it will not renegotiate Britain’s departure terms.

Digital Minister Margot James stood up for May, saying the prime minister was being “hounded out of office because Parliament will not make a decision and the parties just have an inability to compromise.”

If May stays on until next week, pressure is likely to increase when results come in from this week’s elections for the European Parliament, with Conservatives expecting to receive a drubbing. Many British voters on both sides of the Brexit debate look set to use the election to the EU legislature to express displeasure over the political gridlock.

Opinion polls show strong support for the single-issue Brexit Party — largely from angry former Conservative voters — and for pro-EU parties including the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

The election is being held on Thursday in Britain, but results won’t be announced until all 28 EU countries have finished voting late Sunday.

British newspapers were unanimous Thursday in declaring that the end was nigh for May.

The Conservative-backing Daily Telegraph said in an editorial that “either Mrs. May must go as soon as humanly possible, or the Conservative Party must finally remove her.”

The Daily Mail, which has been supportive of May, said that “despite her valiant efforts to deliver an honorable Brexit, she has finally run out of road.”

___

Associated Press writer Carlo Piovano contributed.

___

Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

FILE PHOTO: A 737 Max aircraft is pictured at the Boeing factory in Renton
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A 737 Max aircraft is pictured at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo

May 23, 2019

By David Shepardson

FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration is meeting with international air regulators Thursday from around the world to assess the status of the grounded Boeing Co 737 MAX and what steps are needed to return it to service.

Senior FAA officials will give detailed descriptions of the findings to date from the two crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia which occurred within five months of each other and killed a combined 346 people. The agency will summarize the status of three major ongoing reviews of the 737 MAX and give an update of the recertification process and shed light on Boeing’s proposed revisions to its software and pilot training.

Nearly 60 air regulators from 33 governmental agencies, including from China, Brazil, Australia, the European Union, France, Ethiopia, Indonesia and South Korea are attending the meeting at an FAA office in Texas.

The agency came under criticism in March for failing to ground the Boeing 737 MAX as quickly as China, Europe and other countries.

One of Thursday’s sessions is titled “Data mapping to accidents: safety actions and changes to the 737 MAX training requirements.”

Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell told reporters on Wednesday the FAA would share the agency’s “safety analysis that will form the basis for our return to service decision process.”

Some air regulators have said they will conduct independent reviews of the Boeing 737 MAX. Elwell was asked by a reporter on Wednesday if he would delay ungrounding the plane in order to have “peace” with other regulators.

“We have peace with other regulators,” Elwell said. “We’re talking to them constantly. You want to make this like, ‘We at war with the other countries over this.’ We’re not.”

The FAA is still asking Boeing questions about a proposed software upgrade and training revisions and has not decided whether to require simulator training. Elwell repeatedly declined to provide a time frame for how soon the agency might approve the airplane’s return to service or say if it was realistic that airlines could resume flights by August as some have suggested.

“If it takes a year to find everything we need to give us the confidence to lift the (grounding) order, so be it,” Elwell said.

The FAA will not unground the plane until it obtains the findings from a multi-agency Technical Advisory Board reviewing the software fix. It consists of experts not involved in any aspect of the Boeing 737 MAX certification.

Boeing said last week it had completed development of the software update on the 737 MAX to prevent erroneous data from triggering an anti-stall system known as MCAS that is under scrutiny following the two disastrous nose-down crashes. It must still formally submit the upgrade for approval and conduct a certification flight before the FAA can act.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Fort Worth, Texas; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Extraordinary European Union leaders summit in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel arrives at an extraordinary European Union leaders summit to discuss Brexit, in Brussels, Belgium April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

May 23, 2019

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Linguistically-split Belgium holds a national election on Sunday that polls show is unlikely to allow Prime Minister Charles Michel to renew his center-right government.

Michel, 43, has been running the country of 11 million people in a caretaker capacity since December and could face many more months in that role if party leaders struggle to form a new coalition after the vote.

In 2010, that task took a world record 541 days until Elio Di Rupo, who still leads the francophone Socialists, finally took office.

“The lesson from 2010 is we can cope for some time with a caretaker government. There will be a government, but it could be in 2020,” said Carl Devos, political analyst at Ghent University.

Belgium effectively runs two separate elections in the Dutch and French-speaking regions, with no national parties, after which it will somehow have to weld together a federal government from a more left-leaning south and right-leaning north.

Wallonia in the south is forecast in polls to shift more to the left, making the Socialist Party (PS) the biggest with the hard left Workers Party (PTB) gaining ground. Michel’s liberal Reformist Movement (MR) is seen losing seats in both Wallonia and the capital Brussels.

Among Dutch speakers, the center-right New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), which ultimately wants to make richer Flanders a separate country, is expected again to win the most seats, while the far-right Vlaams Belang is also seen making gains.

N-VA, expected to be the largest overall party with some 30 percent of the Flemish vote, could push for further devolution to Belgium’s regions, which already have wide powers over transport, agriculture and aspects of economic policy including foreign trade.

That is something the poorer south resists, fearing it will only become worse off.

Belgians simultaneously elect federal and regional assemblies, as well as participating in the European Parliament vote.

Climate change has emerged as one key campaign theme, to the benefit of the Greens. Mainstream parties are expected to see support slipping, as in other European countries.

Economists at ING said the next government was unlikely to follow up the initial reforms of Michel’s center-right government and could even reverse some, such as an increase in the retirement age to 67 from 65.

They also say maintaining stable public finances of a country’s whose public sector debt to economic output ratio is set to be the fourth highest in the euro zone this year will be a major challenge for any new government.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Source: OANN

Pound coins are seen in the photo illustration taken in Manchester, Britain
FILE PHOTO: Pound coins are seen in the photo illustration taken in Manchester, Britain September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Illustration

May 23, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – A no-deal exit by the United Kingdom from the European Union would push sterling to its lowest against the euro since the global financial crisis a decade ago, UBS Wealth Management said on Thursday as uncertainty over the chaotic process deepens.

The asset management division of UBS said in a note the UK currency would hit 97 pence, just short of parity against the euro. That would be its weakest since December 2008.

It also predicted it would fall to $1.15, its lowest since a flash crash in October 2016.

“Investors should not be complacent about the threat of a no-deal exit,” said Dean Turner, UK economist at UBS Wealth Management.

In turn, a decision to remain in the bloc would likely cause a swift rebound in sterling. Turner said he believes the pound is undervalued relative to its purchasing power parity level of around $1.58.

Sterling was trading at 88.25 pence against the euro and $1.26 by 0907 GMT.

(Reporting by Josephine Mason, Helen Reid and Abhinav Ramnarayan; writing by Josephine Mason, Editing by Helen Reid)

Source: OANN

A woman walks past an advertising board for the EU elections at the Schuman railway station near the European Parliament in Brussels
A woman walks past an advertising board for the EU elections at the Schuman railway station near the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

May 23, 2019

By Alastair Macdonald

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europeans start voting on Thursday in four days of elections to the EU parliament that will influence not just Brussels policy for the next five years but, to some extent, the very future of the Union project itself.

In 2014, nationalists hostile to the EU doubled their presence in the assembly, topped the poll in Britain and went on to win a 2016 referendum there that yanked out one of the bloc’s biggest members. Almost.

Five years on, polls show eurosceptics gaining again. But Brexit is yet to happen, and may not; Brussels’ fiercest enemies will still struggle to top 20%; and the far-right goes into the weekend hit by scandal over its Austrian flagbearer’s videotaped collusion with a supposed Russian oligarch’s niece eager to buy favor.

Others who want to halt or reverse federalist trends, if not scrap the European Union altogether, also face headwinds. Some who are tasting national power must also face disillusioned supporters — notably Italy’s co-rulers the League and 5-Star.

The European project is facing a list of challenges, including unprecedented transatlantic slights from a U.S. president who fetes Europe’s populists, border rows over migrants and an economy hobbled by public debt and challenged by the rise of China.

But parties seeking collective continental action on shared issues such as trade, security, migration or climate change should still dominate the chamber, albeit with a smaller overall majority.

NATIONALIST TIDE

Europeans are preparing to remember events that shaped the Union — 75 years since Americans landed in France to defeat Nazi Germany and since Russian forces let the Germans crush a Polish bid for freedom; 30 since Germans smashed the Berlin Wall to reunite east and west Europe.

But memories of wars, hot and cold, have not sufficed to build faith in a united future. Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxemburger who will be replaced as EU executive head after the election, warns of a rising tide of nationalism, not just on the fringes.

Mainstream parties pushing closer integration of the euro currency zone’s economy are struggling to capture the imagination of a public jaded with political elites.

Describing it as “undoubtedly the most important” since the first such election in 1979, centrist French President Emmanuel Macron again flourished the standard he has raised for Europe, calling on Thursday for cooperation from conservatives, socialists and Greens to face down a caucus of anti-EU forces.

“In today’s world we need a stronger, more united Europe,” Macron told Belgium’s Le Soir newspaper. Asked if he believed his opponents could destroy the EU, he replied: “Of course.”

He need look no further than home turf to see the threat. Marine Le Pen’s National Rally hopes to top the French EU poll again. And she is delightedly telling voters that she will find many more allies to block what she calls a “rush to federalism”.

(Graphic of seats and polling days: https://tmsnrt.rs/2EdJ1W2)

BREXIT BALLOT

Matteo Salvini’s League may pip the Christian Democrats of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the bloc’s power broker beset by nationalists to her right, to become the biggest single party in the 751-seat chamber.

Right-wing ruling parties in Poland and Hungary, defying Brussels over curbs to judicial and media independence, will also return eurosceptic lawmakers on Sunday.

The anti-EU Brexit Party could also finish in first place in Britain — though the circumstances surrounding the election there are verging on the absurd. Britons will kick off the voting on Thursday two months after they were supposed to have left the EU. They will be choosing 73 MEPs who cannot be sure of even taking their seats in July.

The results should be clear by late on Sunday, ushering in weeks of bargaining among parties to form a stable majority in the Parliament, and among national leaders to choose successors to Juncker and other top EU officials.

Many expect a clash as early as Tuesday, when leaders meeting in Brussels are likely to snub Parliament’s demands that one of the newly elected lawmakers should run the EU executive.

While many Europeans may remain indifferent to the goings on in Brussels, governments in Moscow, Washington, Beijing and elsewhere will be watching closely for signs of political weakness, or strength, in the world’s biggest economic bloc.

(Editing by Andrew Heavens and Catherine Evans)

Source: OANN


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