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British MPs set to vote on no-deal Brexit

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LONDON: British MPs will vote Wednesday on whether the country should leave the EU without a deal in just over two weeks, after overwhelmingly rejecting a draft divorce agreement.
The House of Commons is expected to vote against a “no deal” Brexit, although this could still happen on March 29 unless it can agree on what should happen instead. MPs on Tuesday rejected for a second time the withdrawal deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May, despite her obtaining last-minute assurances from EU officials. Some eurosceptics are now pressing to leave with no deal, but May warned this scenario could cause “significant economic shock” – and many MPs agree with her. If the “no-deal” option is voted down, the government is planning another Commons vote on Thursday on whether or not to request a Brexit delay. But May warned: “Voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems we face. The EU will want to know what use we mean to make of such an extension. This House will have to answer that question,” she said, her voice half-breaking due to a cold.
“Does it wish to revoke Article 50?” she said, referring to the Brexit process. “Does it want to hold a second referendum? Or does it want to leave with a deal but not this deal?” British media have reported that May could make a desperate attempt at a third vote on her deal, hoping that Brexit hardliners will fall in line. But Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour party, said the text was “clearly dead” and urged her to back his own plan for closer economic ties with the EU. A group of lawmakers will on Wednesday put forward an alternative proposal to delay Brexit until May 22 and agree on a series of interim agreements with the EU lasting until 2021. But Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said Brussels had nothing more to offer and must now brace for the possibility of a messy divorce. “The EU has done everything it can to help get the withdrawal agreement over the line,” he tweeted after Tuesday’s result. “The impasse can only be solved in the #UK. Our ‘no-deal’ preparations are now more important than ever before.” After MPs first rejected the 585-page Brexit deal in January, May promised changes to its hated backstop plan, an arrangement intended to keep open the border with Ireland. Weeks of talks failed to make a breakthrough, but May made a late dash to Strasbourg to meet EU leaders on the eve of the vote.
She announced she had secured “legally binding changes” to the backstop, which would keep Britain in the EU’s customs union if and until a new way was found to avoid frontier checks. Hours later, however, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said these additions would not completely allay MPs fears of being trapped in the arrangement indefinitely. Brexit-supporting MPs in May’s Conservative party, and her allies, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), swiftly declared they would not support the deal. Some eurosceptics did change their mind, urging their colleagues not to risk everything. But the margin of Tuesday’s defeat was 149 votes, not significantly smaller than the historic 230-vote thumping the plan first suffered on 15th January. If MPs vote against a no-deal exit on Wednesday and want to postpone Brexit, the other 27 EU nations would need to agree. Their leaders will meet in Brussels for a summit on 21-22 March. But any postponement may have to be short-lived. European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday said Brexit “should be complete before the European elections” at the end of May.

Relevant pieces published earlier:

British Parliament rejects Brexit Deal by 149 votes

British MPs to vote on draft Brexit deal tomorrow

London mayor urges Brexit delay 

British opposition raises prospect of second Brexit referendum

Brexit: UK ministers warn PM to get her deal now

UK posts slowest growth in six years as Brexit looms

 

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Russian Pianists Mesmerize Karachiites (VIDEO AND TEXT)

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KARACHI: Music aficionados from all over the Metropolis converged at the patio of Alliance Française de Karachi (AFK) – French Cultural Centre – here on Monday (29th April). The occasion was a piano concert by Russian twin sisters Anastasia & Polina Churbanova. 

KARACHI: Humane Urduphone Consul General of the Russian Federation Dr. Aleksandr G. Khozin announced that the first piece of the evening had been dedicated to Ahmed Mir (late official of the Qatar Airways) who had sponsored the duo’s transportation – Mir died in an accident in the USA.

KARACHI: Conspicuous among others there were  Consul Generals of Russia & France, Commissioner Karachi, Bina Shah (President AFK), Behram & Goshpi Avari (who had sponsored the twin’s stay here), and family members of the late official of Qatar Airways Ahmed Mir.The soirée commenced with two sisters playing German Composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s Minuet & Badinerie  (from Orchestral Suite No.2 in B minor). The next piece was French composer & pianist Francis Poulenc’s Sonate Zu vier Händen. Alexander Scriabin’s composition (Sonata No.3 in F-sharp minor op.23) Andante was performed by Polina whereas, her sister’s solo was Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata No. 27 in E Minor op.90. The last scheduled composition played by the twin sisters was Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Barcarolle, Scherzo, Russian Theme, Romance, Waltz and Slava (6 pieces, op.11 for piano four hands). After three curtain calls the twins excused as they were too exhausted to perform.  KARACHI: Talking exclusively to this scribe Anastasia & Polina Churbanova told that they were from St. Petersburg and were playing Piano since they were six. After taking lessons for a year they took part in a globally acclaimed contest named after Lubov Brook. Later in 2003, they won first prize in the famous international competition named after celebrated Russian pianist/composer A. Rubinstein. The twins told this was their second visit to the Port City, a Metropolis where they would love to perform again in future. They give piano concerts in Russia regularly and – besides  Pakistan – had performed in five foreign countries (including Austria, Germany, Holland, & Ukraine). 

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PS: It is pertinent to mention here that this performance was part of an international concert series termed as Classical Music Without Borders.

 

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Theresa May announces her resignation!

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LONDON: Drawing three-year premiership to a close, Theresa May will leave 10-Downing Street on 7th of June. 

This was announced here today by the Premier who had to take this decision due to massive criticism for missing two Brexit deadlines failing to deliver her major policy of leaving the EU: “It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit,” stated.

She maintained that it had been the honor of her life to serve as PM and she would leave with no ill will, but enormous and enduring gratitude. 

 

 

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Macron faces a critical test this weekend

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PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron this weekend faces a critical test of his ambitions to reform France and champion a liberal Europe in European Parliament elections where his own party risks losing to the far-right.
The latest opinion surveys show the far-right National Rally (RN) outpolling Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) by between 0.5-2 percentage points, after months where the two were neck-and-neck.
Analysts say that two years into his five-year term, the EU election represents a critical juncture for Macron and will influence whether the 41-year-old president can continue reforming in what he calls the “second act” of his time in office.
Macron has made no secret of the importance of the polls in France Sunday, telling regional newspapers this week the elections were the most important for four decades as the union faced an “existential threat”.
At stake is the youthful president’s vision of implementing further pro-business reforms in France, while emerging as a champion of more integration among EU member states.
Losing to Marine Le Pen’s RN — formerly known as the National Front — could be a glaring blow to those ambitions.
Sources close to Macron say a bad loss could prompt a major cabinet reshuffle, with the job of Prime Minister Edouard Philippe seen as being on the line.

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