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Brexit news: EU and UK have ‘precious time’ to find secure deal as MEP issues warning | Politics | News


Christophe Hansen, a member of the European Parliament’s Brexit committee, claimed both sides face a race against the clock to conclude any agreement ahead of the looming ratification deadline. Sources have hinted a deal could emerge by mid-November, but the Luxembourger insisted MEPs would need to see the “substance” of the future relationship pact as early as next week in order to complete the formalities. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Hansen conceded talks are already set to overrun the original deadline set to give the EU Parliament enough time to rubber-stamp any agreement.

He said: “We would have wanted this effort to have already started earlier on because we have precious little time.

“We’ve lost precious time and it’s now the very last phase of the negotiations, if we don’t hear much that’s not very helpful – we’re really waiting for the final substance, and the microphone on that is silent.”

Before any Brexit deal can enter into force it must be scrutinised by two parliamentary committees in Brussels and then given the green light at a plenary session in December.

Mr Hansen revealed the EU Parliament had already agreed to a “fast-tracked procedure” to give negotiators extra time to find agreements on the key sticking points of access to Britain’s coastal waters and controls over state subsidies for businesses.

Michel Barnier and David Frost

Michel Barnier and Lord Frost are said to be edging closer to a Brexit deal (Image: GETTY•PA)

David Frost

Lord Frost is the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator (Image: GETTY)

He said: “We need six weeks to two months to do our work properly. We are under time pressure, this will already break a fast-tracked procedure and is the fastest we can do. 

“We need concrete results in the first week of November.”

Both sides have been locked in intensive wrangling over the Brexit deal after the EU agreed to finally begin work on a joint legal text and put pen to paper on the agreement after months of stalling.

The talks will shift to Brussels on Thursday for one final push before a potential political intervention from Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Michel Barnier

Michel Barnier in London (Image: GETTY)

Mr Hansen insisted the EU and UK can overcome their differences over common standards, especially for state aid, in order to clinch a deal.

He said: “The problem is not the level-playing field or concerns over state aid, this is a question of trust.

“When we look at the UK, it doesn’t have a very strong track record of giving too much state aid, so the danger is not as imminent as one might say.

“We know what the UK state aid regime will be, it’s finding the necessary supervision for this and the possibility to address concerns.”

MUST READ: Brexit fury: Boris Johnson blasted for ‘giving up’ in EU talks

Christophe Hansen

MEP Christophe Hansen is a member of the EU Parliament’s Brexit committee (Image: EbS)

Fisheries remains one of the toughest issues to solve in the coming days, with the subject still shown as a “red light” on the EU’s traffic light system for progress.

A number of European governments, including France and Belgium, are still holding out for the same level of access to Britain’s coastal waters after Brexit.

But Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit chief, believes possible compromises have emerged in order to secure concessions from Britain.

The Frenchman is working on a trade-off between the UK’s access to the EU’s energy markets and the bloc’s access to British fishing grounds, according to Mr Hansen.

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Mr Hansen said: “Those are compromises we could make, the UK or EU has strengths and weaknesses, that’s why we want to discuss everything together.”

In a final warning, the politician insisted the EU Parliament could still veto any trade agreement at the last minute if Downing Street refuses to remove controversial clauses from its Internal Market Bill.

The legislation, which gives ministers the power to tear up parts of last year’s withdrawal agreement, infuriated Brussels.

Mr Hansen said: “The withdrawal agreement must be respected to the very last letter. It’s not a threat, just a reality that we would not consent to a deal at any cost.”





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When is the Brexit deal deadline and what if there’s not a deal?


Dealing with both Brexit and coronavirus is a massive undertaking (Picture: PA)

The final Brexit negotiations have coincided with the onset and fallout of the coronavirus pandemic – further complicating an already unique situation.

Meanwhile, fears of a second wave of coronavirus persist and uncertainty is widespread as the deadline to broker a Brexit deal grows ever closer.

With talks between UK and the EU still ongoing, here’s what you need to know about when the deadline to secure a Brexit deal is and what could happen if a deal isn’t brokered in time.

When is the Brexit deal deadline?

Britain officially left the European Union on January 31, 2020.

This date also signalled the start of a ‘transition period’ which is intended to allow the UK and the EU a chance to adjust to this new situation and reach a deal.

This transition period is set to end on December 31, and no extension will be given due to the fact that the deadline to request one has passed.

The PM previously said that he did not want negotiations to stretch on past September, but a new deal deadline for the end of October has since been set.

For the time being, as the transition period continues, the UK and the EU are still trading under the same rules as before.

If a deal between the EU and the UK is not brokered before the transition period ends in December, then the UK will drop out of both the customs union and the single market.

A senior source previously told the Telegraph: ‘The government has been making it clear for a while that it is prepared for a no deal.

‘Britain isn’t going to budge on fundamentals like fishing rights, so it’s all in the hands of the EU.’

Transport minister Grant Shapps said in July that the Government would like a deal but was prepared to accept a no-deal situation.

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According to leaked emergency plans, the Government is preparing for economic chaos, power outages and public unrest if a second wave of coronavirus occurs in tandem with a no-deal Brexit.

A classified PowerPoint made by the Cabinet Office’s EU Transition Task Force warns of price hikes, power outages, water rationing and animal disease ripping through the countryside in the event of a potential medicine shortage.

On top of that, the document seen by The Sun warned ministers of food and fuel shortages around Christmastime if lorries get stuck at Dover, while 1,500 soldiers are already on standby ready to help police deal with potential unrest.

Under the Government’s plans for an ‘unruly’ EU departure, planners suspect France will enforce ‘mandatory controls on UK goods from day one’, which could see the flow of deliveries between Dover and Calais drop by 45% over three months, meaning longer queues and a shortage of the 30% of food imported from the bloc, along with medicines, fuel and chemicals used to purify drinking water.

The worst-case scenario could see water rationing implemented and power outages in parts of the nation.

MORE: ‘An imperial history that no longer exists’: Nobel Prize-winning geneticist on Brexit

MORE: Co-op Bank to axe 350 jobs and close 18 branches across country

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Stilton drives wedge between UK-Japan Brexit deal


stilton
stilton

A post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and Japan may have met an unlikely obstacle – stilton cheese.

On Friday, the two sides said they hoped to agree the details of a post-Brexit trade agreement by the end of the month.

The Department for International Trade said talks are ongoing.

But progress has reportedly been blown off course after International Trade Secretary Liz Truss requested better terms for British blue cheeses.

The Financial Times, which first reported that talks had hit a snag, said Ms Truss may be looking for a symbolic victory, as sales of blue cheese to Japan from the UK were only £102,000 last year.

A better deal for the products may mean her department could claim a slightly more favourable deal than the one the EU secured with Japan last year, when the two sides secured a cut of €1bn of tariffs on food.

Dairy and other food products are among the EU’s biggest exports to Japan.

Ms Truss is a long-term fan of UK produce. In 2014, when she was environment secretary she told the Conservative Party conference it was a “disgrace” that “we import two-thirds of our apples, nine-tenths of our pears, and two-thirds of our cheese”.

The Department for International Trade declined to say more about the report, other than that talks are ongoing and point to Ms Truss’s comments from Friday, when she said a consensus had been reached between the UK and Japan and said a deal was expected by the end of the month.

“Negotiations have been positive and productive, and we have reached consensus on the major elements of a deal – including ambitious provisions in areas like digital, data and financial services that go significantly beyond the EU-Japan deal,” she said in a statement at the time.

“Our shared aim is to reach a formal agreement in principle by the end of August.”



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‘The ball is in the UK’s court,’ EU’s #Brexit negotiator says



Britain must send “clear signals” that it wants to seal a deal with the European Union on their relationship after Brexit, the bloc’s chief negotiator said ahead of more talks with London, adding a deal was still possible before the end of the year, write Gabriela Baczynska and Jan Strupczewski.

Michel Barnier (pictured) said Britain had so far not engaged with tentative openings floated by the EU side on state aid and fisheries in the previous negotiating rounds, which have mostly been held on video calls due to coronavirus safety restrictions.

“The ball is in the UK’s court,” Barnier told an online seminar on Wednesday. “I believe that the deal is still possible.”

He said he was “disappointed” with Britain’s refusal to negotiate on foreign policy and defence but that he was open to finding a “margin of flexibility” on thus-far conflicting EU and UK positions on fishing and the state aid fair play guarantees.

“As well as with fisheries and governance, we are ready to work on landing zones, respecting the mandate of the EU,” he said when asked how far the bloc could go towards Britain on the so-called level playing field provisions of fair competition.

They are among the chief obstacles to agreeing a new relationship between the world’s largest trading bloc and the world’s fifth-largest economy. Britain left the EU last January and its standstill transition period ends at the end of 2020.

Barnier said “the moment of truth” would come in October when the negotiating teams must finalize a draft deal if it is to be ratified by all the 27 EU member states in time for 2021.

Should talks fail, Barnier said the UK would be more severely affected than the EU if trade quotas and tariffs kick in, meaning that the bloc would not seal a deal at any cost.

“The level playing field is not for sale. It is a core part of the our trade model and we refuse to compromise to benefit the British economy,” he said.

Barnier added that, while Britain refused to sign up to the level playing field commitments in exchange for access to the single market, it was keen to retain very close ties on financial services and the electricity market.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants a narrower trade deal with the EU, but the bloc is pushing for an alliance that would cover transport, fisheries, security and other areas.

Barnier named nuclear co-operation and internal security as areas where progress had been made but said agreeing a role for the bloc’s top court and sealing Britain’s commitments to the European Convention of Human Rights were still missing.

He pressed Britain to advance preparations for the sensitive Irish frontier as agreed under the EU-UK divorce deal last year.

London and the bloc have agreed to intensify negotiations, with contacts planned every week until the end of July and resuming on 17 August after a summer break.



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Coronavirus live news: EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tests positive | World news


French police officers patrol and control citizens while a strick lockdown comes into in effect to stop the spread of the Covid-19

French police officers patrol and control citizens while a strick lockdown comes into in effect to stop the spread of the Covid-19 Photograph: Laurent VU/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

France has suggested extending a two-week lockdown to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus as the interior minister blasted “idiots” who flout home confinement rules and put others at risk, AFP reports.

President Emmanuel Macron has ordered French residents to stay at home except for essential excursions such as going to the doctor, walking the dog, or going for a solitary run, and banned any gatherings.

For a two-week period that began Tuesday, people can go to work only if their employer cannot make tele-commuting possible.

But news reports have shown groups of friends and families strolling in parks despite the clampdown, prompting calls from some officials for even stricter limits.

Many have been observed ignoring the one-metre (three feet) safe inter-personal distance in queues at the essential businesses that were allowed to stay open.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said people ignoring the measures were “idiots”.

“There are people who underestimate the risk… There are people who think they are modern-day heroes by breaking the rules while they are in fact idiots,” he told Europe 1 radio.

Macron on Thursday urged companies and workers to continue their activities “in compliance with the health safety rules”.

Genevieve Chene, who heads France’s public health agency, said between two and four weeks are needed for the outbreak to be adequately contained.

“Within two to three weeks we should be able to observe a slightly different dynamic” to the outbreak’s momentum, she told Franceinfo radio, and “a significant braking” within two to four weeks.

“It is likely that it is indeed necessary to extend (the containment measures) in order for the braking to be sufficient,” Chene said.

Meanwhile, the French government has started requisitioning hotel rooms for homeless people to occupy during the confinement period, Housing Minister Julien Denormandie announced.

More than 170 rooms will be made available in Paris by the end of the week, and the government has identified 80 sites elsewhere across the country to accomodate the country’s estimated 250,000 homeless people.



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Britain heralds end of ‘cheap labour from Europe’ with #Brexit immigration system


Britain will prioritize access for high-skilled workers from around the world in its post-Brexit points-based immigration system, the government said on Tuesday (18 February), setting out its plans to put an end to a reliance on “cheap labour from Europe”, writes Kylie MacLellan.

Concern over the impact of high levels of immigration from the European Union was one of the key drivers behind Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the bloc and the government has said it plans to bring overall migration numbers down.

The new system will assign points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions and only give visas to those who have enough points. It will come into force from Jan. 1, 2021 and will treat EU and non-EU citizens the same.

“We have got a number of routes through the points-based immigration scheme that will enable people to come here with the right kind of skills that can support our country and our economy,” Interior Minister Priti Patel said.

But business groups said that many firms relied on overseas labour and cautioned there might not be enough domestic workers to tend crops, care for patients and serve food – a deficit that could undermine the world’s fifth largest economy.

EU citizens will not need a visa to enter Britain as a visitor for up to six months.

The Home Office said it would follow a recommendation made last month by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent body which advises the government, to lower the minimum general salary threshold for skilled migrants to 25,600 pounds ($33,330) a year, from 30,000 pounds.

Skilled workers will need to meet criteria including specific skills and the ability to speak English, the government said, and those applying will need to have a job offer.

There will be no specific entry route for low-skilled workers, something the government hopes will help reduce the number of migrants.

“We need to shift the focus of our economy away from reliance on cheap labour from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation. Employers will need to adjust,” the government said in a policy document setting out its plans.

The MAC estimated the impact of the government’s planned salary and skills thresholds would mean around 70% of European Economic Area citizens who have arrived in Britain since 2004 would not have been eligible for a visa.

Students will be covered by the points-based system, the government said, while there will be separate initiatives for scientists, graduates, National Health Service workers and those in the agricultural sector.

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#Brexit – UK open to looser ‘Australia-style’ trade deal with EU: source


“There are only two likely outcomes in negotiation – a free trade deal like Canada or a looser arrangement like Australia – and we are happy to pursue both,” the source said.

Johnson is due to give a major speech on trade on Monday, following Britain’s departure from the EU on Friday after nearly 50 years of membership.

Previously Johnson has said his main goal is to reach a Canada-style trade deal with the EU before an 11-month transition period expires at the end of the year, after which British firms would face tariffs to sell goods to the EU.

But Johnson has also said Britain will not commit to continue following EU rules after the transition period, and Saturday’s remarks suggest he is growing less willing to make the trade-offs that many businesses want to smooth a deal.

Canada does not follow EU rules, but some EU governments are reluctant to give Britain similar leeway to diverge on labour and environmental standards, given the much greater trade volumes involved.

In some areas, such as the minimum wage, maternity leave and the elimination of single-use plastics, British standards significantly exceed EU minimums.





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Brexit no detour for migrants hoping to cross Channel to UK


CALAIS, France (AP) — Migrants and refugees waiting by the French side of the English Channel say Brexit hasn’t derailed their determination to cross over to pursue better lives in Britain.

Mingled alongside police officers in the French port of Calais, hundreds of people live in squalid conditions and watch for a boat or truck to carry them to their dreams as stowaways.

Many of them came to Calais from former French colonies such as Ivory Coast and Niger, only to have their asylum requests rejected by French authorities.

The northern French city, laced with high fences and a wall, is the place in France closest to Britain. There are two regular cross-Channel transportation routes from Calais that draw migrants, the Eurotunnel and ferries to Dover, England.

A desire to curtail immigration played a role in the U.K.’s 2016 vote to pull out of the European Union, which guarantees EU citizens the right to live and work in any of the member countries.

Brexit taking effect late Friday doesn’t appear so far to have dented the will of the desperate people from outside Europe who made it to Calais to make an end run into Britain. They bide their time playing soccer and keep warm by building small fires.

“For us, (Brexit) doesn’t change anything,” a man from Ivory Coast said. “We are still living this (dire situation) with the same desire to get to England because France does not want us. We are sick of that.”

The man would not give his name because he feared it might hurt his chance to seek asylum.

A migrant from Gambia who would not give his name for the same reason expressed his anguish by singing a reggae song he composed with the lyrics, “Living in this jungle, yeah, living in this jungle yeah, we don’t have nowhere to go and nowhere to stay.”

At one point, thousands of refugees and migrants congregated in Calais, assembling a huge makeshift camp dubbed “The Jungle.” French authorities eventually cleared and closed it. Neither repeated sweeps nor increased security in the area has stopped the flow of people.

“The situation is pretty bad here, It always has been. I personally don’t think anything will change,” said Clare Moseley of the non-governmental organization Care 4 Calais.

“The things they are fleeing from are worse than anything that can happen here,” Moseley added.

So Brexit or not, migrants still wait and hope that at some point they will ride a lucky opportunity across the expanse of water, although chances are slim.

French border police and maritime officials patrol northern France by land, sea and air, combing beaches, dunes and coastal waters to catch the increasing number of people attempting to get across the Channel in small boats.

Britain has pressured France to do more to stop those attempting the dangerous trip and financed a renewed deterrence operation over a year ago.



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Brexit news: Labour Leavers pay biggest price of Corbyn’s failure on Brexit day | UK | News


With or without a bong, Britain finally leaves the Brussels bloc today and sails the seas of a new adventure outside the European Union as a truly free and independent nation. The Brexit battle fought by the Tories in the last four years against the ever-demanding team in Brussels and Remainer MPs unwilling to accept their defeat in the UK Parliament, has finally paid off for the nation. The biggest price of Britons’ decision to leave the EU will be paid by those who voted for their own fate in the 2016 referendum, a bitter Remainer would say. And Brexiteers will endlessly work to debunk the argument going forward, proving Brexit Britain has been well worth the struggling fight. One thing is already certain, though. The Labour Party’s inability to engage with its own voters and the rest of the country on the most important issue in a generation has cost them the biggest electoral defeat of a lifetime.

Labour was catastrophically defeated in the December 2019 election against Boris Johnson.

Yet, the outgoing leadership is still failing to admit it was its Brexit policy to campaign for a second referendum that cost them the result.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, now in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn in April, is adamant the reason Labour lost the December election is in the delivery of all the “radical” policies the party had drafted for the country.

But pro-Brexit Labour MPs who lost their seats in December pinpoint the devastating loss on Sir Keir Starmer’s masterminded proposal of a second EU vote.

And even the most prominent figures of the Labour Party who have been battling to take the UK out of the EU since 1975 now admit Labour has put himself on the wrong side of the Brexit argument for decades.

Former Chair of Labour Leave John Mills admitted the Labour Party has never been “in the best position in either camp” when both fighting for Britain to leave the EU in 1975 and siding with its Remain supporters in 2019.

READ MORE: Brexit shock: Keir Starmer vows to bring back freedom of movement

brexit news labour party jeremy corbyn brexit day labour leave tony benn

Brexit news: Jeremy Corbyn failed to stand his ground on Brexit and lost (Image: GETTY)

Both times, Labour lost and the Tories won.

During the 2016 referendum campaign, Labour Leavers would promptly bring former Labour Chairman Tony Benn’s anti-EU speeches to light to prove their true, core belief lied in a Britain freed by Brussels shackles.

And standing side-by-side the same “father of Brexit”, as some of them branded Mr Benn, was no one else but Jeremy Corbyn himself.

The Islington MP, who ran as a candidate for deputy leader to Tony Benn in 1981 before even becoming a Member of Parliament, stood on platforms across the country to fight the Brexit battle before any eurosceptics in the Conservative Party even had a say in the matter.

But given the opportunity to become Labour leader in 2015, the same man failed to stand his own ground and pretended to support the complete opposite of what he had preached for decades just to please an ever-excited new band of members who so badly wanted to remain EU citizens.

“One of the things about 1975 was that about 80 percent of the Tory Party voters voted to Remain, whereas most of the Leave support camp came from the left,” John Mills told Express.co.uk.

“Now that’s the other way around. Certainly, in Parliament and among the Labour Party membership, there’s much more of a Remain campaign now than there is a Leave campaign.

Labour party tony benn european union speech

Labour Party politician and Chairman of the Labour Party, Tony Benn (1925-2014) (Image: GETTY)

labour party jeremy corbyn tony benn 1992 blackpool

Anthony Wedgwood Benn (1925 – 2014, right) and Jeremy Corbyn (centre) at the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool, UK, 1992 (Image: GETTY)

“It’s the other way for the Conservatives, so there has been a big swing around.”

He added: “I don’t think that the issue of the EU was the only reason behind the election result in 2019.

“But I think it was a very important factor and I do think that so many people voted Conservatives did so because they disagreed with Labour’s stance on the EU and for the fact that the party was becoming too much metropolitan, too London-orientated, too Remain, too much the party of the middle class and the public sector and so on.

“When you run an election on that basis you need to have your large number of industrial and traditional Labour voters campaign behind you as well.

“And that’s what didn’t happen.”

The businessman and economist admitted his own core group of Labour Leavers could not win against the Conservatives’ clear message of “taking back control” and “get Brexit done” with their ideological fight against capitalism and ever-growing support for Remain in their core metropolitan elites.

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He said: “People always had different reasons for wanting to leave the European Union.

“Why did people vote to leave the EU and particularly working-class people, I don’t think it’s entirely because of problems of capitalism.

“I think it was much more because they wanted to have control of their own lives, they thought the EU was too much of an elitist organisation.”

He added: “We’ve had a situation where MPs have very strongly been Remain, most Labour MPs and most Labour Party members have been really strongly Remain as well – probably 80 percent of the members.

“But when it came to Labour voters the situation was very, very different.

“Of all the people that voted Labour for the last few decades, about half of them probably were on the Leave camp.

“I think what we’ve done is to keep alive a handful of Labour Leave people which was quite important for the referendum result.”

brexit news labour party lord glasman labour leave

Brexit news: Labour Leave member Lord Glasman (Image: EXPRESS)

One of those Labour Leave people is Labour peer Lord Glasman. A staunch supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour eurosceptic told Express.co.uk in April 2019 that his party needed to present Britons with the “socialist opportunities of Brexit” to contrast the Conservatives’ “globalised capitalism” possibilities of trading with other nations outside of the EU.

He said: “A third or maybe half of the Labour manifesto could not be implemented if we stay in the EU.

“Workers could not be given first choice about buying a company because they would violate EU competition laws.

“We couldn’t have nationalisation, we couldn’t have an industrial strategy, we couldn’t have a pro-worker movement.

“And it’s also the case that every country where the socialist Labour parties have supported the EU, their support died and they no longer exist.

“So Labour has to work this out. What I’m saying is that Corbyn represents, and many of us in Labour represent, the democratic and socialist possibilities of Brexit.

“And you can’t have that without democratic sovereignty.”

brexit news labour party jeremy corbyn general election 2019

Brexit news: Jeremy Corbyn lost 60 seats for the Labour Party at the December 2019 election (Image: GETTY)

Adding: “The politics that is to come will be a Conservative vision of globalised capitalism, and a Labour vision of a democratic nation that could make its own decisions.

“And that should be a split between Labour and Conservative, but as it stands, this whole debate about the EU is getting in the way of what has to come.”

And what did come only a few months later was exactly that. A Labour manifesto full of “radical” socialist proposals that just did not convince the nation.

The Labour Party manifesto included plans for the re-nationalisation of rail, water and energy as well as a tax increase for the highest earners in the country.

Ahead of the election, Jeremy Corbyn also pledged to compensate WASPI women who lost money due to delayed retirement with a £58bn war chest.

The policies Mr Corbyn put forward however failed to convince voters and caused the party to lose 60 seats, including in northern heartlands where Brexit dissatisfaction pushed some Britons to back pro-Leave Tories.

Now all the Leavers in the red party are left with, is the bitter victory of leaving the dreadful EU bloc at the expensive cost of the possible final days of their own party.



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Nigel Farage explains how he thinks Brexit came about – Channel 4 News


Twenty six years ago, a tiny political party was founded with the aim of pulling the UK out of the EU. In just 100 hours time it will have achieved its aim.

Nigel Farage was a founder member of UKIP and led the party for nine years as Brexit switched from being the obsession of a minority to the will of the majority in the 2016 referendum.

Many say he is responsible for that , so how does he think it came about?



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