Brussels, Nov 25 (AP/UNB) — The European Union removed the last major obstacle to sealing an agreement on Brexit after Spain said it had reached a deal Saturday with Britain over Gibraltar on the eve of a summit where EU leaders will sign off on the divorce papers.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, who held preparatory talks with EU leaders Saturday evening, will then have the momentous task of selling the terms of the deal to a recalcitrant British Parliament and a nation still fundamentally split over whether the U.K. should leave the EU on March 29 and under what conditions.
May vowed to campaign "with my heart and soul" to win Parliament's backing for the deal."
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who had threatened to oppose the deal, announced Saturday that Madrid would support the divorce agreement after the U.K. and the EU underscored Spain's say in the future of the disputed British territory of Gibraltar, which lies at the southern tip of the Mediterranean nation.
Spain wants the future of the tiny territory, which was ceded to Britain in 1713 but is still claimed by Spain, to be a bilateral issue between Madrid and London, not between Britain and the EU.
In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk assured Sanchez that Spain's "prior agreement" would be needed on matters concerning Gibraltar.
Spain claimed a major diplomatic victory.
"Europe and the United Kingdom have accepted the conditions imposed by Spain," Sanchez said. "Therefore, as a consequence of this, Spain will lift its veto and tomorrow will vote in favor of Brexit."
But Britain said the statement merely clarified the existing state of affairs. May said Britain had conceded nothing on the sovereignty of Gibraltar.
"I will always stand by Gibraltar," May said. "The U.K. position on the sovereignty of Gibraltar has not changed and will not change."
The move should allow EU leaders speedily to sign off on the Brexit agreement at a special summit Sunday morning.
May hopes to leave EU headquarters on Sunday with a legally binding agreement on the withdrawal terms for Britain's departure from the EU on March 29, as well as an ambitious but vague political declaration on future relations between the two sides.
Winning warm greetings from her 27 fellow leaders on Sunday will likely be easier for May than getting friendly treatment from her colleagues in government and Parliament once she returns. The British leader is under intense pressure from pro-Brexit and pro-EU British lawmakers, with large numbers on both sides of the debate opposing the divorce deal and threatening to vote it down when it comes to Parliament next month.
Brexiteers think it will leave the U.K. tied too closely to EU rules, while pro-Europeans say it will erect new barriers between Britain and the bloc — its neighbor and biggest trading partner.
The leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, on which May relies to get her government majority, on Saturday reinforced her party's rejection of the Brexit deal. The DUP opposes plans for keeping the border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland open after Brexit, saying it weakens the ties binding the U.K. by creating separate trade rules for Northern Ireland.
Arlene Foster said in Belfast that the agreement leaves Northern Ireland "open to the perils of increased divergence away from the rest of the United Kingdom."
The DUP has said it may drop its backing of the government because of the Brexit plan.
May insists her deal delivers the on the things that matter most to pro-Brexit voters — control of budgets, immigration policy and laws — while retaining close ties to the U.K.'s European neighbors.
She plans to spend the next couple of weeks selling it to politicians and the British public before Parliament's vote in December.
In a "letter to the nation" before Sunday's summit, May said she would be "campaigning with my heart and soul to win that vote and to deliver this Brexit deal, for the good of our United Kingdom and all of our people."
She said Britain's departure from the EU "must mark the point when we put aside the labels of 'Leave' and 'Remain' for good and we come together again as one people."
"To do that we need to get on with Brexit now by getting behind this deal."
Brussels, Nov 25 (AP/UNB) —The leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party has used her keynote speech at the annual conference to reject the British government's planned Brexit deal.
Arlene Foster said in Belfast on Saturday that the deal agreed by Prime Minister Theresa May is unacceptable and must be improved upon in the weeks ahead.
Foster's view is important because the DUP provides crucial votes that help keep May's Conservative Party in power despite its minority position in Parliament.
She said that the draft agreement raises constitutional questions that can't be ignored.
Foster said the DUP insists on "an outcome that does not leave Northern Ireland open to the perils of increased divergence away from the rest of the United Kingdom."
The DUP has said it may drop its backing of the government because of the Brexit plan.
Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has slammed the proposed Brexit deal and urged the Democratic Unionist Party not to abandon the Conservative Party.
Johnson told the DUP conference in Belfast Saturday that the Northern Ireland party's support is crucial to the government.
He said that "I hope that you agree that it is absolutely vital that we keep this partnership going." Johnson warned of the dangers of weakening the Conservatives so much that the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn comes to power.
The DUP is threatening to break with the government over Brexit.
Johnson said that Prime Minister Theresa May's government is "making a historic mistake" if it goes forward with its Brexit plan. He said it would greatly reduce Britain's influence and ability to make independent trade deals.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says Spain will agree to support the Brexit deal after Britain and the European Union agreed to give it a say in the future of the disputed British territory of Gibraltar.
Sanchez says Saturday that the U.K. and the EU have agreed to include language in the Brexit divorce deal that Spain could deal with London directly on the issue of Gibraltar.
Sanchez says "this is going to allow us to have direct negotiations with the U.K. regarding Gibraltar."
The issue had become a late stumbling block in the Brexit talks. Sanchez had said on Friday he wouldn't back the divorce deal U.K. and European Union leaders are supposed to vote on during Sunday's summit in Brussels, saying a draft agreement did not include clear language regarding Gibraltar.
The European Union is close to reaching an agreement to ease Spanish concerns about the future of Gibraltar in Brexit talks.
EU spokesman Preben Aamann said on Twitter Saturday that after a phone conversation between Spanish Premier Pedro Sanchez and EU Council President Donald Tusk, "we are closer" to an agreement ahead of Sunday's EU summit in Brussels.
The future of tiny territory of Gibraltar — ceded to Britain in 1713 but which is still claimed by Spain — was the only dispute left hanging ahead of Sunday's summit.
On Friday, Spain pushed for a cast-iron guarantee of its say over the future of Gibraltar as a condition for backing a divorce agreement between Britain and the EU.
The deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland has used a party conference speech to try to persuade Prime Minister Theresa May to change course on Brexit.
Nigel Dodds told the conference in Belfast Saturday that it is not too late for May to alter her Brexit plan.
He says her proposed Brexit agreement reached with the European Union would leave the U.K. in a "pitiful and pathetic place."
The small DUP has an outsize role because its support has been crucial to May's shaky government, which doesn't enjoy a majority in Parliament.
The party is threatening to end its support over the Brexit plan favored by May. That would imperil May's already difficult challenge in winning parliamentary support for her proposal.
Portugal's foreign minister is in support of the Brexit deal including Spain's request to have its say on the future of the disputed British territory of Gibraltar.
Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva says that the original Brexit guidelines laid out last year that included assurances to Spain that it could deal with London directly on the issue of Gibraltar were "wise."
Spain said Friday it wouldn't back the divorce deal U.K. and European Union leaders are supposed to vote on during Sunday's summit in Brussels after language regarding Gibraltar didn't appear in a draft agreement.
Santos Silva says the impasse has an "easy resolution because the heads of state of the 27 had already agreed (.) that any agreement between the U.K. and the EU regarding Gibraltar would require previous agreement from Spain, and that appears to be a very wise line."
British Prime Minister Theresa May is kicking off a big Brexit weekend as she travels to the European Union headquarters in Brussels for talks on Saturday with key leaders.
Spanish objections over the status of Gibraltar — the tiny territory ceded to Britain in 1713 but is still claimed by Spain — is the only dispute left hanging ahead of Sunday's summit of EU leaders.
May will meet with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Council President Donald Tusk in the evening.
May hopes to leave Brussels on Sunday with a firm agreement on the withdrawal terms for Britain's departure from the EU on March 29, as well as a comprehensive negotiating text on how future relations should look like once both sides agree on a trade agreement.
Dhaka, Nov 24 (UNB) - A daylong summit on digital marketing was held at a city hotel on Saturday.
The event was organized with a goal to bring transformational change in the digital marketing space by Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF), with this year's theme being "Delving Deep into Digital".
Some 400 professionals of different sectors attended the event comprising several keynotes and panel discussions.
The programme was enriched by the contributions of five prominent global speakers- Oobah Bulter, Director and Founder of the Number 1 Agency in United Kingdom, Dr Donald Patrick Lim, country CO of Dentsu Aegis Network in Philippines, Yogesh Shroff, Commercial Director, Export and Ecommerce of Nivea India Pvt Ltd, Rajan Srinivasan, Founder and CEP of Spiral Content Solutions (Scatter) and Dolly Jha, Executive Director of Nielsen India, who were the stars of the event.
They along with 22 local experts acted as the resource persons in discussions that covered multiple topics including how to use data to craft an effective digital marketing strategy, preparing a digital ad budget, communicating responsibly and more.
Bangladesh Brand Forum founder and Managing Director Shariful Islam, in his opening speech, said ‘digital’ - using the term as a cover-all for everything associated with a product in the digital space- is going to make or break any brand and “we are just scratching the surface.”
Meghna Group of Industries (MGI), Content Matters, Bangladesh Creative Forum and Association for Information Systems were the main partners to BBF in organising
MGI General Manager Md Mohiuddin also spoke.
Officials of many noted enterprises especially from the private sector were seen thronging the venue, relishing the opportunity to rub shoulders and exchange views with some of the leading names in their respective fields.
The summit was followed by an awards show, where brands adjudged to have the best digital engagements with were awarded in 16 categories.
Having completed its 5th annual iteration, the digital marketing summit is emerging as BBF’s most enduring and valued contribution to the marketing space in Bangladesh, ever since Shariful Islam and Toffael Rashid first decided to apply their knowledge and experience from successful careers abroad to use in Bangladesh, setting up shop as BBF.
London, Nov 23 (AP/UNB) — British Prime Minister Theresa May faced wide-ranging criticism from skeptical lawmakers Thursday as she sought to portray a draft agreement on a post-Brexit relationship with the European Union as a "good deal for our country."
Addressing the House of Commons after the publication of a 26-page draft political declaration with the EU on post-Brexit relations, May said the agreement will ensure a "smooth and orderly" British departure from the European Union. Britain officially leaves the 28-nation EU — the first country to ever do so — on March 29.
"The draft text that we have agreed with the (European) Commission is a good deal for our country and for our partners in the EU," May said.
May is due to travel to Brussels on Saturday for further Brexit meetings, including with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a day before a summit of the EU's 27 other leaders at which both the political declaration on post-Brexit relations as well as the divorce agreement, which alone has legal status, are expected to be formally signed off.
The withdrawal agreement needs to be sealed soon to leave enough time for the European Parliament and the U.K. Parliament to endorse it.
May told lawmakers that the outlines for the future help protect jobs, end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the U.K., give British fishermen more control and avoid the return of a hard border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
She also said the agreement paves the way for a free trade agreement with the bloc as well as allowing Britain to forge new trade deals around the world.
But her rosy predictions met with resistance on many fronts in Parliament, which is expected to vote on the Brexit plan next month.
At the moment, it looks precarious for the prime minister given the number of lawmakers who have expressed discontent with the proposals, notably the 585-page legal treaty that deals with the terms of Britain's departure, including what the country owes the EU.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's main opposition Labour Party, poured scorn on the agreement on future relations, describing it a "26 pages of waffle" that represented a failure of the Conservative Party and May during two years of negotiations.
Corbyn said the agreement "represents the worst of all worlds" and that Britain will have "no say" over EU rules that will continue to apply in Britain.
"This is the blindfold Brexit we all feared," he said. "A leap into the dark."
May is likely to need some Labour lawmakers to back her plan if she has realistic hopes of winning approval, given that her Conservative Party does not enjoy a majority in the House of Commons.
May also faced criticism from hard-line Conservative Party Brexiteers, notably Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, and from others who pressed May to back a second referendum on the whole Brexit proposition.
If May fails to get a majority in Parliament, it's unclear what would then happen. Some lawmakers argue that the country would end up crashing out of the EU on Brexit day with no deal, a scenario that could see tariffs slapped on exports and restrictions imposed on workers. Others hope Parliament could back a second referendum in the hope the public would call the whole thing off.
The political declaration was agreed upon at a technical level by negotiators and endorsed Thursday by the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, which is overseeing Brexit negotiations.
"This declaration establishes the parameters of an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership across trade and economic cooperation, law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign policy, security and defense and wider areas of cooperation," according to the document.
It also talks about the close ties that have been cemented after 45 years of Britain's membership of the EU and notes that the "parties envisage having a trading relationship on goods that is as close as possible, with a view to facilitating the ease of legitimate trade."
In a speech in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined that "Britain should remain a partner, remain a friend" but she underscored the difficulties that may arise in any attempt to keep services seamless.
"We have to say honestly that, in the services sector, we don't have a great deal of experience with international free trade agreements," she said.
"But we want to see that as a future relationship."
One stumbling block relates to Gibraltar, the tiny territory at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula that was ceded to Britain in 1713 but is still claimed by Spain.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said earlier this week that his government "cannot accept" Gibraltar's future being determined by negotiations at the EU level.
May said Thursday that she has spoken with Sanchez and that she is "confident" there will be a resolution on Sunday "that delivers for the whole U.K. family, including Gibraltar."
Tokyo, Nov 23 (AP/UNB) — Nissan Motor Co. fired Carlos Ghosn as chairman Thursday, curtailing the powerful executive's nearly two-decade reign at the Japanese automaker after his arrest for alleged financial improprieties.
In an hourslong meeting, the company's board of directors voted unanimously to dismiss Ghosn as chairman and as a representative director, Nissan said in a statement. It said its own internal investigation, prompted by a whistleblower, found serious misconduct including under-reporting of his income and misuse of company assets.
It was a stunning downfall for one of the biggest figures in the auto industry. Ghosn had helped drive turnarounds at both France's Renault SA and at Nissan and then managed an alliance between them that sold 10.6 million cars last year, besting its rivals.
Renault is still reeling from Ghosn's Monday arrest, and its share price has yet to recover. Its acting chief, Deputy CEO Thierry Bollore, spoke publicly Thursday night for the first time since Ghosn was sidelined, and sought to soothe markets, car buyers and his employees by promising continuity.
In a video released by Renault, Bollore said the carmaker still plans to release several new models next year. Acknowledging the "particular situation" the company is in, he pledged his "full commitment" to Renault's 180,000 workers and its partners and customers. Renault's board decided not to fire Ghosn, instead installing temporary leadership.
The French government, which owns 15 percent of Renault, is also worried. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Thursday that France has yet to receive information from Japan about what Ghosn is accused of and insisted on "respect for the presumption of innocence."
Speaking to The Associated Press, Le Maire said "this turbulence shouldn't weaken" the Renault-Nissan alliance or its hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Nissan said in a statement filed to the Tokyo Stock Exchange that its investigation uncovered misuse of company investment funds and expense money for personal gain.
The Wall Street Journal, citing an anonymous source close to Nissan's investigation, reported that Ghosn used company funds to buy personal residences and enrich his sister.
Another Nissan executive, Greg Kelly, was arrested in Japan on suspicion of collaborating in the wrongdoing and also will be dismissed as a representative director, Nissan said. Their replacements will be decided later, it said.
Ghosn, 64, is suspected of under-reporting $44.6 million in income from 2011 to 2015, according to Tokyo prosecutors.
Nissan's board consists of nine members, including Ghosn and Greg Kelly. The seven other board members voted at the meeting, including two members from Nissan and two from Renault.
Ghosn and Kelly will remain on Nissan's board for now as that decision will be up to shareholders. No date has been set yet for a shareholders meeting.
Ghosn is also chairman at Mitsubishi Motors Corp., a smaller Japanese automaker that's partnering with the Renault-Nissan alliance and plans to hold a board meeting next week.
He has been held since his arrest Monday at a Tokyo detention center, under the same Spartan conditions as other detainees, Tokyo deputy prosecutor Shin Kukimoto told reporters Thursday. He gave few details about the case.
Under Japanese law, suspects can be held for 20 days per possible charge without an official indictment. Additional charges can be tagged on, resulting in longer detentions. Neither has been charged so far.
The maximum penalty upon conviction for violating finance and exchange laws is 10 years in prison, a 10 million yen ($89,000) fine, or both.
A French citizen born in Brazil, Ghosn became something of a corporate superstar in Japan as he led Nissan's revival from near bankruptcy after Renault sent him to help in 1999.
Ghosn served as Nissan's chief executive from 2001 until last year. He became chief executive of Renault in 2005, leading the two automakers simultaneously. In 2016, he also became chairman of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. after Nissan took it into the alliance.
Kelly, 62, joined Nissan, maker of the Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models, in the U.S. in 1988. He became a board member in 2012. His background is in human resources and alliance management.
Analysts say the future of Nissan's alliance with Renault may be at stake, though Nissan's statement Thursday said the company's leadership was determined to minimize the impact from Ghosn's case on the partnership. Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, and Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault.
The economy ministers of Japan and France met in Paris on Thursday to discuss the issue and released a statement saying both sides are committed to supporting the alliance.
Nissan said its board will study setting up a third-party committee to beef up governance in management and compensation at Nissan.
Janet Lewis, managing director and head of industrial research, Asia, at Macquarie Capital Securities in Tokyo, said in an interview that an adjustment was needed to give Nissan more say in the alliance with Renault.
The partnership remains crucial for both companies, she said, since apart from financial ties the companies share technology and parts. The automakers need to be more like roommates than a married couple, she said.
"So they have to find a way to share their house and share all of their expertise because it's very necessary in terms of new automotive technology, new platform development," Lewis said. "They need to figure out how they can continue this and still live happily together in the same house."