LONDON: British Parliament voted on Thursday (14th March) to seek a delay of the country’s departure from the European Union, averting chaotic withdrawal on the exit date of 29th March.
According to details, the House of Commons voted 412-202 to ask the bloc to postpone Britain’s exit until at least 30th of June EU officials have said they would only allow a delay if Britain either approves a divorce deal or makes a fundamental shift in its approach to Brexit.
It is pertinent to mention here that after the passage of even three years Britain voted to leave the EU, its future is now in the bloc’s hands.
Relevant pieces published earlier:
EU election: Le Pen leads in France
PARIS: Marine Le Pen, Far-Right National Rally party seems all set to finish top in European elections in France on Sunday.
Europe chooses future course today
BRUSSELS: Tens of millions of Europeans will vote today as 21 countries choose their representatives in a battle between the nationalist right and pro-EU forces to chart a course for the bloc.
Seven EU member states have already voted, and provisional results will be released late on Sunday once the rest of the union has taken part in the European parliamentary election.
Eurosceptic parties opposed to the project of ever closer union hope to capture as many as a third of the seats in the 751-member Strasbourg assembly, disrupting the pro-integration consensus.
The far-right parties of Italian deputy PM Matteo Salvini and France’s Marine Le Pen will lead this charge, and anti-EU ranks will be swelled by the Brexit Party of British populist Nigel Farage.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron has taken it upon himself to act as a figurehead for the centrist and liberal parties hoping to shut the nationalists out of key EU jobs and decision-making.
“Once again Macron is daring us to challenge him. Well let’s take him at his word: On May 26, we’ll challenge him in the voting booth,” Le Pen told a rally in France on Friday.
Meanwhile, the mainstream parties are vying between themselves for influence over the choice of a new generation of top European officials, including the powerful president of the European Commission.
And Brussels insiders are closely following the turnout figures, fearing that another drop in participation will undermine the credibility of the EU parliament as it seeks to establish its authority.
Britain and the Netherlands were first to vote, on Thursday, followed by Ireland and the Czech Republic on Friday and Slovakia, Malta and Latvia on Saturday, leaving the bulk of the 400 million eligible voters to join in on Sunday.
At the last EU election in 2014, Slovakia had the lowest turnout of any country, at less than 14 percent, and centrist president Andrej Kiska is worried that the far-right is poised to profit.
“We see that extremists are mobilizing, we see a lot their billboards and activities all over Slovakia. We can’t let someone steal Europe from us. It’s our Europe,” Kiska told reporters.
But the right and the far-right have not had everything their own way so far.
In the Netherlands, the center-left party of EU vice president Frans Timmermans won the most votes and added two seats to the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) bloc in parliament, according to exit polls.
A day later, the S&D’s center-right rival the European People’s Party (EPP) was buoyed by exit polls suggesting that Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s pro-EU Fine Gael party was in the lead in Ireland.
If Britain leaves the European Union on October 31, the latest deadline for Brexit, then its MEPs will not sit for long in the EU parliament but could still play a role in the scramble to hand out top jobs.
Thursday’s votes from Britain won’t be counted until after polls close in Italy, but Farage’s Brexit Party appears on course to send a large delegation to a parliament its wants to abolish.
Macron is pinning his hopes on his Renaissance movement joining with the liberal ALDE voting bloc and other centrist groups to give impetus to his plans for deeper EU integration.
But much will depend on who gets the top jobs: the presidencies of the Council and the Commission, the speaker of parliament, the high representative for foreign policy and director of the European Central Bank.
The 29 EU leaders have been invited to a summit dinner on Tuesday to decide how to choose the nominees, and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to back the lead EPP candidate Manfred Weber for the Commission.
Macron and some other leaders oppose both Weber, a German conservative MEP with no executive experience, and the idea that the parliament should get to choose one of its own for Brussels’ prime post.
But whichever way the leaders’ council leans, there will be no immediate decision. Instead, Council president Donald Tusk will take note of how the debate went and draft the nominations before a June 21 EU summit.
Russian Pianists Mesmerize Karachiites (VIDEO AND TEXT)
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).
PS: It is pertinent to mention here that this performance was part of an international concert series termed as Classical Music Without Borders.