The Latest: UK-German companies aren't ready for Brexit
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s departure from the European Union (all times local):
President Donald Trump has offered encouragement to British Prime Minister Theresa May, who promised to quit if lawmakers approve the latest version of her Brexit deal with the European Union.
Speaking to reporters at the White House on Thursday, Trump called May a friend and said he wished her well with the “Brexit movement and everything happening there.”
Trump said: “She’s a very good woman, and I’ll tell you what, she’s strong, she’s tough, she’s in there fighting.”
The U.S. president previously has made comments about May and Brexit that were seen in Britain as insults that undercut the prime minister.
Earlier this month, he said he was “surprised at how badly” the Brexit negotiations were handled and that May didn’t listen to advice he offered her.
The speaker of Britain’s House of Commons has cleared the path for lawmakers to debate and vote on the EU Withdrawal Agreement on Friday.
Parliament will vote on the 585-page withdrawal agreement, which sets out the terms of Britain’s departure from the European Union. But lawmakers will not be voting on a shorter declaration on future ties that is also part of the divorce deal between the U.K. and the EU.
The removal of the political declaration from debate is an attempt to alter the deal enough to overcome a ban on asking lawmakers the same question thrice.
Germany’s health minister is voicing concern that supplies of some medical products in the European Union could quickly be disrupted if Britain leaves without a deal.
In a letter to the European Commission, Jens Spahn pointed to the risk of products certified in Britain losing their formal licensing in the EU. The letter, first reported by the Handelsblatt daily, was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.
He said that the items affected include important orthopedic implants, cardiology products and products used to screen blood donations.
He said he fears that “also in Germany, the supply of blood products to patients could be endangered from mid-April at the latest.”
Spahn said the problems can only be solved EU-wide. He called for simplified procedures to transfer British certification to other EU countries and the quick registration of the products affected in another EU country. He also called for a 12-month transition period in which products could still be used.
The British government says it plans to hold a new Brexit debate in Parliament Friday, but hasn’t confirmed whether it will call a third vote on its twice-rejected European Union divorce deal.
House of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom says lawmakers will hold an unscheduled sitting day to debate a Brexit motion.
The EU has given Britain until Friday to approve the Brexit deal and ensure an orderly departure from the bloc on May 22.
But Prime Minister Theresa May is still struggling to win over lawmakers, who have twice rejected the deal by large margins.
And the House of Commons speaker says the government can’t bring the rejected deal back a third time unless it is substantially changed.
Leadsom says “we recognize that any motion brought forward tomorrow will need to be compliant with the speaker’s ruling.”
The European Union says it hopes to see a “yes” vote on Brexit soon in the British parliament and especially this week if the U.K. wants to leave the EU based on the deal both sides have agreed.
British lawmakers voted late Wednesday on eight possible Brexit options but none received the majority support that would clarify the U.K.’s future course.
European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Thursday that “we counted 8 ‘no’s last night. Now we need a yes on the way forward.”
He recalled that EU leaders insist that the new Brexit date is April 12, unless Prime Minister Theresa May can convince British lawmakers to endorse her deal this week.
Schinas said: “It is now for the U.K. government to inform us about how it sees the next steps.”
A survey of German companies’ subsidiaries in Britain and British firms’ subsidiaries in Germany has found that nearly half the companies aren’t prepared for Brexit.
The survey of 101 firms, conducted in December and January and released Thursday, showed that 47 percent hadn’t carried out a Brexit risk assessment. It was conducted by auditor KPMG and the British Chamber of Commerce in Germany.
It showed a wide variety of expectations for the outcome of the Brexit impasse. KPMG’s Andreas Glunz said that “when all scenarios are possible, a company can’t prepare for all scenarios simultaneously.”
Thirteen percent of respondents said that, if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal, they would move some or all of their business from the U.K. to Germany, and a further 10 percent planned to move business from Britain to another EU country. None planned to move business to Britain.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is making a final effort to save her European Union withdrawal deal after her promise to quit failed to win over lawmakers from Northern Ireland.
May pledged Wednesday night that she would stand down if the deal were approved, in hopes of blunting opposition from lawmakers who have criticized her leadership. While some opponents, including former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, quickly said they would back May’s deal, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party said it remained opposed because of concerns it treats the province differently from other parts of the U.K.
Parliament later rejected eight alternatives in a series of “indicative votes.”
Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay said the outcome showed May’s deal was “the best option” as he appealed for lawmakers to support the agreement.
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