Monday, September 16, 2019 09:09:02 AM
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, a contender to replace Theresa May as prime minister, said Sunday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had indicated the EU would be willing to renegotiate the Brexit divorce deal.
Hunt, one of nearly a dozen Conservatives vying to succeed May after she resigned as party leader Friday, said he spoke with Merkel at this week's D-Day commemorations and was convinced changing May's agreement was possible.
"She said that of course with a new British prime minister we would want to look at any solutions you have," he told Sky News.
"I'm absolutely clear that if we take the right approach to this, the Europeans would be willing to negotiate on the package."
Hunt did not specify if he was referring to the legally binding withdrawal agreement, which the EU has repeatedly insisted cannot be re-opened, or to the accompanying political declaration on future relations, which could be revisited.
May agreed the package with the EU last year but British lawmakers rejected it three times, forcing her to delay Brexit twice - the latest extension being to October 31.
A controversial provision in the agreement for the Irish border, known as the backstop, has proved the key stumbling block.
It would prevent the return of border checks between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland if the sides fail to agree a free trade pact after an initial transition period.
Hunt claimed Merkel had signalled EU leaders may now be open to a technological solution to the thorny issue - something Brussels has previously ruled out as unrealistic.
"She said to me 'Germany doesn't have that border with the Republic of Ireland, you do… so you need to come up with the solution'," he said of their conversation.
"So it's going to be a solution that's based around some technologies -what the Germans call intelligent border(s). I think that's doable."
A German government spokeswoman said it does not comment on "the contents of confidential conversations with the chancellor".
However, she noted comments from Merkel following a European Council meeting in April "which remains valid".
"We have once again made clear that the exit agreement applies, that it will not be changed, and that we can certainly talk about future relations," her statement said.
·May stepped down as Conservative Party leader Friday and formally triggered the race for a successor - currently being contested by 11 Tory MPs - but will remain prime minister until a new leader is chosen.
The leader of the party, which won the most seats at the last general election in 2017, will almost certainly become prime minister.
The Brexit-dominated battle is expected to conclude by the end of next month, with former foreign secretary Boris Johnson considered the clear frontrunner.
Johnson said in an interview published Sunday that he would refuse to pay Britain's divorce bill until the EU agreed better withdrawal terms.
The former London mayor also signalled he would scrap the unpopular backstop and try to settle the border issue once London and Brussels were negotiating their future relationship.
"Our friends and partners need to understand that the money is going to be retained until such time as we have greater clarity about the way forward," he told The Sunday Times.
"In getting a good deal, money is a great solvent and a great lubricant," Johnson added, in his first newspaper interview since launching his bid to become Britain's next premier.
A source close to French President Emmanuel Macron told AFP that a refusal by Britain to pay its Brexit bill would be viewed as the country defaulting on its debts.
"Not honouring payment obligations is a breach of international commitment equivalent to a default on its sovereign debt, with the consequences that we know," the source said.
· 'Sense of regret' -
In a boost to his campaign, several cabinet members this weekend joined a
growing number of centrist Tory MPs in declaring their support for him.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, however, announced in a tweet on Sunday that she was backing Hunt for leader.
And Home Secretary Sajid Javid, another leadership candidate, has also picked up some key endorsements and this weekend won the backing of popular Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson.
Meanwhile, Environment Minister Michael Gove faced turmoil in his campaign after he admitted to using cocaine "on several occasions at social events" two decades ago.
"I do have a profound sense of regret about it all and I am very, very aware of the damage that drugs do," he told the BBC on Sunday.
The former justice minister has faced accusations of hypocrisy for having continually supported tough drug laws.
A former senior drug adviser to the government warned the admission could see him barred from entering the United States under its strict anti-drugs immigration laws.
Gove tried to turn the conversation back to policy by announcing he would radically reform a key sales tax in Britain if he became prime minister. Environment Minister Michael Gove faced turmoil in his campaign after he admitted to using cocaine "on several occasions at social events" two decades ago.
"I do have a profound sense of regret about it all and I am very, very aware of the damage that drugs do," Mr Gove told the BBC on Sunday.
The former justice minister has been accused of hypocrisy for continually supporting tough drug laws.
Meanwhile, a former senior drug adviser to the government warned that the admission could mean Mr Gove is barred from entering the US under its strict anti-drugs immigration laws.
MANY Chhatra League leaders often share on social media the Prime Minister's quote "let high principles and a simple way of living be your ideologies in life". She had said this to Bangladesh Chhatra League many a time. But the pro-AL student body's some leaders had other ideas. BCL now ...
Marcus Rashford put the disappointment of a previous penalty miss behind him by scoring from the spot to give Manchester United a much-needed 1-0 win over Leicester at Old Trafford on Saturday.The result was also a personal triumph for United's £80 million ($99 million) defender Harry Maguire, signed from Leicester ...
Former British prime minister David Cameron launched a blistering attack on the UK's current leader Boris Johnson in extracts of his memoirs published Sunday, accusing him of only backing Brexit to further his own career.He said Johnson, who took office in July, believed that campaigning for Britain to leave the ...
Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Sushama Sarker is a versatile actress in both TV and theatre plays. She also got appreciation for acting in several numbers of movies. Since 2000 she has been attached with theatre group, Desh Natok. Under the banner of this group her performances in plays Jonomey Jonmantor, Birsa ...
THE government has planned to build barbed wire fencing around the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar due to increasing incidents of human trafficking. Following a proposal placed by Cox's Bazar police, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Defence Ministry in a meeting on September 4 agreed on the need ...
He may have become as important to India's bowling as Virat Kohli is to their batting, but it's clear that Jasprit Bumrah doesn't have the flamboyance of his captain as yet. In these times, where cricketers wear their confidence, and at times arrogance on their sleeves, his shy persona, humble ...
Quinton de Kock possesses an "incredible cricket brain", feels senior batsman David Miller, who is ready to perform "any role" that the new South African white-ball skipper wants him to.Left-handed Miller along with De Kock and Kagiso Rabada form the core of a new-look South African limited overs set-up which ...
AFP, London :After days attempting to apply online to remain in the UK after Brexit, EU citizen Bina Gayadien was faced with the same message: her information was "insufficient".The Dutch lawyer, a UK resident for 20 years, is one of thousands discovering that the British government's system to process their ...
Joe Biden did what he needed to - avoid major blunders - in the latest debate featuring the top Democrats in the 2020 race for the White House, but the frontrunner faced lingering doubts Friday about his ability to take on President Donald Trump.The centrist former vice president weathered sustained ...
Alia Bhatt is one actress who is extremely focused, whether it is her career or fitness. Recently, Alia Bhatt's personal fitness trainer Sohrab Khushrushahi shared a video of her lifting 70 kg weight. In the video Alia was praised for her dedication and hard work by her fitness trainer. Sohrab ...
ALTHOUGH the experts have presumed that hasty move to withdraw idle funds from the accounts of the state-owned bodies could pose risk of a liquidity crisis in private commercial banks, the media reported that Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal ruled out the possibility of any such crisis. According to bankers, ...
UNB, Dhaka :Bangladeshi archer Mohammad Rumon Shana has won gold in the recurve men's singles of the ongoing Asia Cup-World Ranking Archery Tournament (Stage-3).The 24-year-old beat Shi Zhengi of China by 7-3 set points in the final at Clark City in Philippines on Friday.On the way to the final, Shana ...
Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Yesterday morning was something different for popular folk singer Shahnaz Belly because she rendered songs of baul legend Shah Abdul Karim in a programme of Bangladesh Television which was telecasted in the morning. After performing in the show the singer got positive response in Facebook. Belly informed ...
AFP, Harare :The family of former Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe have agreed to bury him at a monument for national heroes in Harare, a family spokesman said on Friday though the date for the ceremony was still unclear.Mugabe died in Singapore last week aged 95, leaving Zimbabweans torn over the ...
ELIYAS Numan, a Swechchhasebak League leader, was hacked and beaten unconscious by a group of Jubo League men in Mymensingh's Gafargaon on September 2. When the 28-year-old man regained consciousness after two days, he found his left hand amputated and bandages from the waist down. The brutal attack has left ...