Brexit Defends

Brexit: PM defends planned changes to Withdrawal Agreement – BBC News

Boris Johnson

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Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament

Boris Johnson has urged MPs to support a bill which modifies the Brexit deal he signed with the EU in January.

The PM said the Internal Markets Bill would “ensure the integrity of the UK internal market” and hand power to Scotland and Wales.

He also claimed it would protect the Northern Ireland peace process.

Critics say the move will damage the UK’s international standing after a minister admitted the plans break international law.

The Scottish government has not ruled out legal action to prevent it becoming law.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Tories’ proposed bill for a so-called UK internal market is an abomination. It is a naked power grab which would cripple devolution.”

The Taoiseach (Ireland’s prime minister) Micheál Martin has spoken to Mr Johnson “in forthright terms” about “the breach of an international treaty, the absence of bilateral engagement and the serious implications for Northern Ireland”, the Irish government said.

‘Challenging circumstances’

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove will hold emergency talks in London on Thursday with EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic to discuss the contents of the bill.

The European Commission had requested a meeting as soon as possible to clarify what the legislation means for the Brexit deal.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: “Very concerned about announcements from the British government on its intentions to breach the Withdrawal Agreement. This would break international law and undermines trust.”

Downing Street said the EU Withdrawal Agreement – repeatedly described as “oven ready” by Mr Johnson during last year’s general election – contained “ambiguities” and lacked clarity in “key areas”.

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PA Media

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EU negotiator Michel Barnier arrives in London for talks

The PM’s spokesman said it had been agreed “at pace in the most challenging possible political circumstances” to “deliver on a decision by the British people”.

It had been signed “on the assumption that subsequent agreements to clarify these aspects could be reached”, the spokesman added.

It comes as talks on securing a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU continue in London.

Remit of the bill

The new bill sets out rules for the operation of the UK internal market – trade between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – after the end of the Brexit transition period in January.

It proposes:

  • No new checks on goods moving from Northern Ireland to the rest of Great Britain
  • Giving UK ministers powers to modify or “disapply” rules relating to the movement of goods that will come into force from 1 January if the UK and EU are unable to reach an alternative agreement through a trade deal
  • Powers to override previously agreed obligations on state aid – government support for businesses

The bill explicitly states that these powers should apply even if they are incompatible with international law.

Ministers say the legislation is needed to prevent “damaging” tariffs on goods travelling from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland if negotiations with the EU on a free trade agreement fail.

‘Beyond price’

But senior Conservatives have warned it risks undermining the UK’s reputation as an upholder of international law.

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PA Media

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Former PM Sir John Major fears the UK will lose its reputation for keeping its word

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major said: “For generations, Britain’s word – solemnly given – has been accepted by friend and foe. Our signature on any treaty or agreement has been sacrosanct.”

He added: “If we lose our reputation for honouring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the government to consider “the reputational risk that it’s taking in the proposed way forward”.

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Media captionSir Keir Starmer says the UK government should consider the “reputational risk” in its approach.

But Sir Keir – who campaigned for a second Brexit referendum – added that the “way forward” now was to get a trade deal, adding “if you fail to get a deal. prime minister, you own that failure”.

“The outstanding issues are not difficult. They can be resolved. So what I say to the prime minister is, you promised a good deal, get on, negotiate it,” he added.

“That’s what’s in the national interest and focus then on the issue in hand which is tackling this pandemic.”

In the withdrawal agreement with the EU, Northern Ireland is still in the UK, but it has to follow elements of the EU’s customs code.

This bill will be seen by the EU as a pretty brazen attempt to override the deal that has been done.

The bill contains the words “notwithstanding” – that basically means this law sets aside a law we have already agreed.

That was described to me earlier in the week as being a completely nuclear option.

And they have pressed it.

This row isn’t going to go away.

The Democratic Unionist Party, which has been pressing for changes to the Withdrawal Agreement, said the bill was a “step forward” but the government must ensure Northern Ireland is not “restrained in a state aid straight jacket unlike the rest of the UK”.

But the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’ Neill, said the Withdrawal Agreement protected the Good Friday Agreement and it was “astounding” the UK government “thinks its fine” to wreck an international treaty they had signed up to.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson said: “My job is to uphold the integrity of the UK but also to protect the Northern Ireland peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.

“And to do that, we need a legal safety net to protect our country against extreme or irrational interpretations of the Protocol, which could lead to a border down the Irish Sea, in a way that I believe would be prejudicial to the interests of the Good Friday Agreement and prejudicial to the interests of peace in our country. And that has to be our priority.”

Commenting on a similar argument by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, a former minister told the BBC: “I cannot allow anyone to get away with saying the government is doing this to protect the peace process. This does the precise opposite.”

The legislation will see Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland handed powers in areas such as air quality and building efficiency currently regulated at EU level.

It will also set up a new body – the Office for the Internal Market – to make sure standards adopted in different parts of the UK do not undermine cross-border trade.

The Scottish government fears the UK single market will cut across areas that are usually devolved.

For example, if the UK government decides some food imports are acceptable in England then they would also be allowed in Scotland, even though agriculture is devolved.

‘Rogue state’

The new body will be able to issue non-binding recommendations to the UK Parliament and devolved administrations when clashes emerge.

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Media captionIan Blackford asks Boris Johnson if he thinks he is above the law regarding a bill on future trade.

The SNP’s leader at Westminster, Ian Blackford described the Internal Markets Bill as “nothing short of an attack on Scotland’s parliament and an affront to people of Scotland”.

Mr Johnson said the bill would protect jobs and growth – and was a “massive devolutionary act” that would represent a “very substantial transfer of power and sovereignty” to Scotland and Wales.

But his words did not prevent the resignation of a senior Conservative in Wales, where the party is in opposition.

David Melding, shadow Counsel General, said in his resignation letter that the PM’s actions in the past few days had “gravely aggravated” the dangers facing “our 313-year-old Union”.

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Defends Trump

Trump defends executive orders to extend financial assistance to Americans amid pandemic – CBS Evening News

Trump defends executive orders to extend financial assistance to Americans amid pandemic – CBS Evening News
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Defends Georgia

Georgia gov defends suit against Atlanta over rolling back reopening: ‘We’re fighting two battles here’ – Fox News

Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp joined “The Ingraham Angle” Friday to discuss his lawsuit against the city of Atlanta, and accused Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and other local officials of “playing politics” with the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m working very hard every day, and have been for a long time now, to protect lives as well as the livelihoods of my fellow citizens,” Kemp told host Laura Ingraham. “However, we have people, local mayors, that are playing politics. They want to go back to shelter-in-place. They want to stop in-person dining with no notice, just pulling the rug out from under people, and I’m just not going to allow that to happen.

“We’re fighting two battles here now, one to protect lives, but also to protect livelihoods,” the governor went on. “And so I filed a lawsuit to stop them because those orders are in conflict with the statewide order that I have executed for the public health state of emergency.”


The suit by Kemp and state Attorney General Chris Carr argues that Bottoms overstepped her authority by announcing earlier this month that the city would go back to “Phase 1” of reopening due to an increase of coronavirus cases. That move would have shuttered restaurant dining rooms and non-essential city facilities, as well as mandated that city residents wear masks.

For her part, Bottoms described the lawsuit as “bizarre” and accused Kemp of putting “politics over people” during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show Friday.

Kemp has also clarified his executive orders to expressly prohibit Atlanta and at least 14 other local governments across the state from requiring people to wear face coverings.


“I don’t feel like a mandate is needed for Georgians to do the right thing,” he told Ingraham. “We have existing orders on the books … What’s so frustrating about a lot of the locals that are playing politics with this is we have orders on the books that have worked in the past to help us flatten a curve and help to stop the spread.

“They have the ability, through my order, to use their law enforcement to enforce those orders,” the governor added. “And they’re not doing that. And that’s what I’ve been telling them.”


Kemp added that “it certainly seems like” Democrats are “trying to undermine our economic recovery.”

“I’m as concerned about the virus as anybody. We’re working with our local school leaders and our school superintendents to get schools open,” Kemp said. “You know, I got just accosted when I started opening businesses early on by the left because they were making fun of us opening barbershops and hair salons and now they’re saying that the guidance that we had, you know, having people wear a mask and use PPE and having these rules in place have kept the spread down in our salons and barbershops.

“It’s got to be pandemic politics.”

Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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Defends McEnany

McEnany defends Trump using racist term to refer to coronavirus – CNN

Washington (CNN)White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany is defending President Donald Trump’s recent use of the term “kung flu” to refer to the coronavirus at a rally over the weekend, insisting that it isn’t racist.

Asked why Trump has used racist phrases, including “kung flu”, McEnany said Monday: “The President doesn’t. What the President does do is point to the fact that the origin of the virus is China. It’s a fair thing to point out(.)”
Pressed by CBS reporter Weijia Jiang about the use of the term, McEnany insisted during Monday’s press briefing that the use of the phrase was based on Trump’s push to link the virus “to its place of origin.”
The use of the term “kung flu” in the White House was first made public when CBS’ Jiang, an Asian American, reported in March that “a White House official referred to coronavirus as the ‘kung flu’ to my face.”
At the time, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said the term was “highly offensive.”
“I don’t know how these conversations go, and that’s highly offensive so you should tell us who it is, I’d like to know who it is,” Conway told reporters. Reporters did not give Conway a name.
Asked Monday if the President’s use of the term was “highly offensive” as Conway said, McEnany replied: “The President does not believe that it’s offensive to note that this virus came from China (.)”
The press secretary also brushed off concerns that Asian Americans are offended by the use of the phrase and that it would lead to more discrimination.
“The President has said very clearly: It’s important that we totally protect our Asian community in the US and all around the world. They’re amazing people and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape or form,” McEnany said. “So, it’s not a discussion about Asian Americans, who the President values and prizes as citizens of this great country. It is an indictment of China for letting this virus get here.”
Asked if Trump regrets using the term, McEnany said Trump “never regrets putting the onus back on China, pointing out that China is responsible for this and in the process standing up for US troops who are being blamed by China in a campaign of misinformation.”
McEnany also tried to equate the media’s initial association of the virus with China, in terms such as the “Wuhan coronavirus” and the “Chinese coronavirus”, to Trump’s use of “kung flu.” But, as CNN’s Kaitlan Collins pointed out in the briefing, major news organizations have not used the term “kung flu” to refer to the virus.
Trump first referred to Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus” and the “China virus” earlier this spring, but after garnering criticism, he said he would back off of his use of the term.
And a day before backing off the term, the President tweeted out that the spread of the coronavirus was not the fault of Asian Americans — a group that had been the target of a growing number of racist and xenophobic attacks related to the virus.
“Look, everyone knows it came out of China, but I decided we shouldn’t make any more of a big deal out of it,” Trump told Fox News in March. “I think I’ve made a big deal. I think people understand it.”
The President said at the time that he didn’t regret using the terms to describe the virus and defended his past adoption of the terms by referencing other infectious diseases that are named after where they originate.
But over the last few weeks, Trump has returned back to labeling Covid-19 in a way that associates the virus with China in increasingly harsh terms — calling coronavirus the plague coming into the US from China, then “the Chinese plague,” and, most recently, the “kung flu.”
“It’s a disease, without question, has more names than any disease in history, ” Trump said in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during his first rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. “I can name ‘kung flu,’ I can name 19 different versions of name. Many call it a virus, which it is. Many call it a flu. What difference? I think we have 19, 20 different versions of the name.”

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Comments Defends

Lana Del Rey Defends Her Comments on Fellow Female Singers, ‘Racist’ Backlash – Billboard

Lana Del Rey

Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Lana Del Rey attends the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on Jan. 26, 2020 in Los Angeles. 

After facing heavy criticism on thoughts she expressed via Instagram earlier on Thursday (May 21), Lana Del Rey is defending herself.

In her original post, the singer called out fellow female stars Doja Cat, Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, Cardi B, Kehlani, Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé, who “have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, f—ing, cheating, etc.” She then asked if she can continue singing about her own dark past “without being crucified or saying that I’m glamorizing abuse?”

“To be clear because I knowwwwww you love to twist things,” she wrote in the comments section of her post. “I f—ing love these singers and know them. that is why I mention them.”

“I would also like to have some of the same freedom of expression without judgement of hysteria,” she clarified.

Del Rey continued to defend herself via Instagram story, writing, “Bro. This is sad to make it about a WOC issue when I’m talking about my favorite singers. I could’ve literally said anyone but I picked my favorite f—ing people.”

She added: “And this is the problem with society today, not everything is about whatever you want it to be. It’s exactly the point of my post—there are certain women that culture doesn’t want to have a voice it may not have to do with race I don’t know what it has to do with. I don’t care anymore but don’t ever ever ever ever bro- call me racist because that is bulls—.”

The “Blue Jeans” singer continued to slam critics who thought she was calling out minority artists specifically. “By the way the singers I mentioned are my favorite singers so if you want to try and make a bone to pick out of that like you always do be my guest, it doesn’t change the fact that I haven’t had the same opportunity to express what I wanted to express without being completely decimated and if you want to say that that has something to do with race that’s your opinion but that’s not what I was saying.”

She concluded by writing, “When I said people who look like me—I meant the people who don’t look strong or necessarily smart, or like they’re in control etc. it’s about advocating for a more delicate personality, not for white woman—thanks for the Karen comments tho. V helpful.”

Lana Del Rey’s upcoming album, the followup to 2019’s Norman F—ing Rockwell, will be out Sept. 5.

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