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The Queen joined US President Donald Trump and European and Commonwealth leaders in Portsmouth yesterday for a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. In a speech, the Queen thanked veterans “with humility and pleasure, on behalf of the entire country, indeed the whole free world.”
Also attending the ceremony, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, held a series of bilateral meetings with other leaders including the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and the Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, as well as the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, and the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. Downing Street said the main theme of yesterday’s talks was about shared security.
Meanwhile, Trump ended his state visit to the UK yesterday before travelling to Ireland for talks with the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), Leo Vardakar. In a press conference, Trump said he believed the situation with the Irish border post-Brexit “will all work out very well,” while pointing out that “we have a border situation in the United States.” Responding to Varadkar’s comment that “we want to avoid… a border or a wall,” Trump added, “I think you do, the way it works now is good. I think you want to try to keep it that way.”
Elsewhere, speaking in the House of Commons, Cabinet Office Minister, David Lidington, said that the Government’s objective “is to have a very close, deep future partnership on trade and other matters with our neighbours in the European Union while, at the same time, having the freedom to pursue trade deals with other parts of the world, including the United States.”
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The Environment Secretary Michael Gove said yesterday that he was prepared to delay Brexit beyond October 31 if elected as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister. Addressing the “One Nation” hustings last night, Gove said, “If we are making progress and are on the verge of a deal, and we’ve had a good EU Council in October and we’re 99 percent of the way there on Halloween, are we seriously saying we wouldn’t take a bit more time to get the deal done?” Writing in the Daily Mail today, he adds, “saying that we would leave come what may when there is still progress to be made runs the risk of Parliament forcing us into a general election before Brexit is secured.”
Commenting on the Irish backstop at a Spectator event last night, Gove said he believed there was “room for movement” and said that the return of power-sharing in Northern Ireland could assist the search for alternative arrangements.
Meanwhile, the former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday refused to rule out proroguing Parliament to force through a No Deal Brexit. Fellow leadership contender and former Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey, said she would only appoint MPs “who believe in Brexit” to her Cabinet if appointed leader.
In a BBC radio interview yesterday, the International Development Secretary, Rory Stewart, yesterday criticised what he called a “lack of realism” from other Conservative Party leadership contenders, adding, “anyone who knows anything about Europe knows there is not the slightest hope of getting a new deal through Europe by 31 October.” Speaking on ITV’s Peston last night, Stewart said the idea of proroguing Parliament to push No Deal through was “unlawful, undemocratic, and unachievable.”
Elsewhere, Steve Baker, the Deputy Chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) of pro-Brexit Conservative MPs, said yesterday he is likely to stand for the party leadership unless another contender adopts an ERG plan, published yesterday, for a No Deal Brexit.
Labour’s Shadow Brexit Minister, Jenny Chapman, said yesterday that a second referendum is the only way to “resolve” the deadlock in parliament. She said, “We need to take the bull by the horns, we need to explain to people why that is the right decision to take,” adding, “The underlying thing remains – we have to resolve this by the end of October. There are still people who believe there is another way through this – I don’t see it.” She added, however, that the “final call” on Labour’s Brexit policy lay with party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
Elsewhere, the Labour-run Welsh Government has officially committed itself to remaining in the EU, a change from its previous position in favour of remaining in the single market and customs union. The Welsh Government’s Brexit Minister, Jeremy Miles, told the Welsh Assembly yesterday, “We sought to reconcile the result of the 2016 referendum with the least damaging kind of Brexit, but that effort has now reached the end of the road… as a government, we will now campaign to remain in the EU.”
The European Commission yesterday stated that Italy is in breach of EU fiscal rules because of its growing debt, and warned that it could initiate a disciplinary procedure. A report released by the Commission said, “Italy is not projected to comply with the debt reduction benchmark in either 2019 or 2020 based on both the government plans and the commission 2019 spring forecast.” Commission chief for economic and financial affairs, Pierre Moscovici said, “We have concluded that the debt criterion is currently not respected and that a debt-based [penalty] is warranted for Italy.” The Commission will now look to the Council of the EU to launch an EDP [Excessive deficit procedure], a punitive process that might result in the imposition of financial sanctions on Italy.
This comes as the Commission yesterday proposed an EU budget of €168.3 billion for 2020. European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, Günther H. Oettinger, said, “The draft 2020 EU budget is the last budget proposal of the Juncker Commission. It seeks to continue supporting EU’s priorities- jobs, growth, young people, climate change, security and solidarity- and to prepare the transition to the next budgetary cycle.”
The centre-left bloc led by the Social Democrat party won 96 seats against 79 for the centre-right governing coalition in Denmark’s General Election yesterday. Social Democrat leader Mette Frederiksen said, “This has been a welfare election, and voters’ verdict has been completely clear. From now on, we make welfare the top priority in Denmark.” Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said yesterday that he will announce his government’s resignation to Queen Margrethe later today. Meanwhile, the Danish People’s Party fell from 21.1% to 8.7% in the 2015 election and the far-right Hard Line were 0.2% away from the parliamentary threshold.