London, Apr 7 (AP/UNB) — A senior German diplomat has criticized a British lawmaker for suggesting the U.K. should try to be "as difficult as possible" if the country can't leave the European Union for a long time.
Michael Roth, Germany's minister for European affairs, said the idea tweeted by Brexit hardliner Jacob Rees-Mogg was "out of order."
In an interview with the weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung published Sunday, Roth called on Rees-Mogg and other Conservative Party members in Parliament to embrace a "constructive approach" to Brexit.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is asking the remaining EU leaders to postpone Friday's Brexit deadline until June 30. Roth says the delay is only possible if May gets Parliament to approve her existing divorce deal with Brussels by then.
Roth, who is helping to coordinate the response the EU plans to give to May's request at a Wednesday summit, dismissed reports the remaining 27 member countries are divided on further extending the Brexit deadline.
The U.K. originally was scheduled to withdraw from the EU on March 29. The other countries agreed to conditionally push back the date to April 12.
Britain's pro-Brexit Conservatives are protesting angrily against Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to seek the opposition party's help in finding a compromise Brexit agreement.
May acknowledged Saturday that, despite her best efforts to persuade lawmakers to back her European Union divorce deal, "there is no sign it can be passed in the near future." She said there was no choice but to reach out to the opposition Labour Party. Otherwise, she says, Brexit could "slip through our fingers" unless a compromise alternative can be reached with Labour lawmakers.
But leading Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg on Sunday slammed May's move to include Labour in the Brexit talks, and blamed her for failing to take Britain out of the EU already.
Three days of cross-party talks so far have ended with no agreement.
Milan, Apr 6 (AP/UNB) — An 8-meter (26-foot) sperm whale was found dead off Sardinia with 22 kilograms (48.5 pounds) of plastic in its belly, prompting the World Wildlife Foundation to sound an alarm Monday over the dangers of plastic waste in the Mediterranean Sea.
The environmental group said the garbage recovered from the sperm whale's stomach included a corrugated tube for electrical works, plastic plates, shopping bags, tangled fishing lines and a washing detergent package with its bar code still legible.
The female whale beached off the northern coast of Sardinia last week, within the vast Pelagos marine sanctuary that was created as a haven for dolphins, whales and other sea life.
"It is the first time we have been confronted with an animal with such a huge quantity of garbage," Cinzia Centelegghe, a biologist with the University of Padova, told the Turin daily La Stampa.
The exam also determined that the whale was carrying a fetus that had died and was in an advance state of decomposition. Experts said the mother whale had been unable to digest calamari due to the huge amount of plastic it had ingested, filling two-thirds of its stomach.
WWF said plastic is one of the greatest threats to marine life and has killed at least five other whales that had ingested large amounts of it over the last two years from Europe to Asia.
Another sperm whale died off the Italian island of Ischia, near Naples, last December with plastic bags and a thick nylon thread in its stomach, but plastic was not the cause of death.
The World Wildlife Foundation said between 150,000 and 500,000 tons of plastic objects and 70,000 to 130,000 tons of micro-plastics wind up in Europe's seas each year.
To combat the phenomenon, the European Parliament last week approved a new law banning a wide range of single-use plastic products, including plates and straws, starting in 2021.
Italy's environment minister, Sergio Costa, lamented the whale's death and said he planned to propose a new law this week to limit the use of plastics.
The law will permit fishermen to bring plastics recovered at sea to land for proper disposal, which they currently are barred from doing. Costa also pledged Italy would be one of the first countries to enact the European single-use plastics ban and appealed to the mayors of Italian cities and coastal towns to adopt the ordinances in advance of the 2021 law.
"We have been using disposable plastics in a carefree way in these years, and now we are paying the price," he said. "The war on disposable plastics has started. And we won't stop here."
London, Apr 5 (AP/UNB) — British Prime Minister Theresa May Friday sought to delay Brexit until June 30 to avoid a crash-out in one week's time, but a key European Union leader suggested an even longer pause in the difficult divorce proceedings.
In a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, May seeks an extension until June 30 and agreed to make contingency plans to take part in European Parliament elections in late May if necessary.
Tusk proposed a longer time frame. He urged the 27 remaining EU nations to offer the U.K. a flexible extension of up to a year to make sure the nation doesn't leave the bloc in a chaotic and costly way.
Two EU officials, who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to disclose information before it was made public, said that Tusk wants a one-year "flextention" and hopes to get it approved at next Wednesday's EU summit.
Such a move would mean that the U.K. needs to take part in the May 23 to May 26 European elections, something which the U.K. prime minister has long argued would not be in either side's interest.
The elections pose a substantial stumbling block because Britain would be expected to take part, if it is still an EU member, so its people have representation in the European Parliament. Officials worry the legitimacy of European institutions could be jeopardized if the population of a member state is not involved in the process.
Any extension to the deadline will need unanimous approval from the 27 remaining EU nations. French President Emmanuel Macron has thus far seemed cautious about giving Britain more time, saying the EU cannot be held hostage by Britain's political deadlock over Brexit.
If any EU nation refuses to back an extension, Britain will be expected to leave as scheduled on April 12. The complex maneuvering comes as Britain's Parliament considers legislation designed to prevent such a "no-deal" departure.
There are concerns that an abrupt exit without an agreed withdrawal deal could lead to economic slowdown and a breakdown in food and medical supplies as border checks and tariffs are added overnight.
Massive traffic jams would also be expected on highways leading to major ferry ports as previously open borders were tightened with more identity and passport checks.
Britain's upper House of Lords is set to resume debate on the measure Monday. It was endorsed earlier by the lower House of Commons by just one vote.
Despite the apparent support in Parliament for a new law to prevent a no-deal exit, the decision is in the EU's hands, not Britain's. Britain is the first country to try to leave the EU bloc, and the formal "Article 50" exit procedure has never been tested before.
EU leaders agreed late last month to prolong the Brexit date from March 29 until April 12, unless May could push their mutually agreed divorce deal through Parliament.
The Europeans would prefer that Britain don't take part in the European Parliament elections if it is going to leave. April 12 is the last day for Britain to signal whether it will field candidates.
May said in her letter that Britain is reluctantly ready to begin preparations for the European elections if no Brexit deal is reached in the interim.
She said she is making these preparations even though she believes it is not in Britain's interest or the EU's interest for Britain to take part in the elections because it is a departing member state.
May says she "accepts" the EU position that if Britain has not left the 28-nation bloc by May 23 it will have a legal obligation to take part in the elections.
The prime minister says she is still hopeful of reaching a compromise agreement that could take Britain out of the EU before that time.
May says it is "frustrating" that Britain hasn't yet resolved the situation. Her withdrawal plan, agreed with the EU over more than two years of delicate negotiations, has been rejected by Parliament three times, leading to the current political and legal impasse.
She is now seeking a compromise in a series of talks with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his deputies with hopes of winning opposition backing for a new divorce plans.
If that doesn't work, May plans a series of votes in Parliament to see if a majority-backed plan can emerge.
Ideas being discussed include keeping Britain in a customs union with the EU after it leaves the bloc, as well as the possibility of a second referendum.
There is fierce opposition from Conservative Party Brexit-backer to these options.
Britain voted by a 52% to 48% margin in 2016 to leave the bloc.
London, Apr 4 (AP/UNB) — Meetings are planned Thursday between the British government and the opposition Labour Party in an urgent search for a compromise Brexit solution.
The upper House of Lords is also set to consider legislation that would force Prime Minister Theresa May to seek a Brexit delay from the European Union. The bill is aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit on April 12.
British police are warning politicians to tone down their Brexit rhetoric amid concerns about the volatile public mood as the future of Brexit is debated.
British officials hope to agree on a Brexit plan that can be presented to EU officials ahead of an April 10 summit that will determine if the scheduled exit date can be delayed.
Business leaders warn that a "no-deal" Brexit would badly hurt commerce.
Wellington, Apr 4 (AP/UNB) — Police say the man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks will face 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges at his court appearance on Friday.
Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant had been charged with one count of murder after his arrest the day of the March 15 massacre.
Fifty people were killed in the two mosques and dozens of others were shot and wounded.
Tarrant won't be required to enter a plea on Friday.
The judge says the brief hearing will mainly be about Tarrant's legal representation. He has said he wants to represent himself.
The man accused in the Christchurch mosque attacks is due to make his second court appearance via video link on Friday although media photographs and reporting on the proceedings will be limited by New Zealand law.
Fifty people died in the March 15 attacks on two mosques.
Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, has been charged with one count of murder, and police plan to file more charges. Tarrant won't be required to enter a plea on Friday. The judge says the brief hearing will mainly be about Tarrant's legal representation. He has said he wants to represent himself.
New Zealand tightly restricts what can be reported about upcoming court cases to avoid tainting the views of potential jurors.