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#Brexit: 'Leave' and 'Remain' groups make their official nomination to get state funds

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BREXIT-TEA-BAGThe EU referendum's debate is to enter a heated phase as groups hoping to front the official In and Out campaigns make their pitch to be allowed to spend up to £7 million.

The Electoral Commission is expected to decide the official groups by 14 April. They can select one designated lead campaign for both the 'Leave' and 'Remain' sides ahead of the referendum on EU membership on 23 June.

The chosen campaigns will get access to a grant of up to £600,000, an overall spending limit of £7m, campaign broadcasts, free mailshots and free access to meeting rooms. The Electoral Commission will judge each applicant's merits on the basis of a range of criteria, such as level of cross-party support, campaign tactics and organisational capacity.

The chosen campaigns will get access to a grant of up to £600,000, an overall spending limit of £7m, campaign broadcasts, free mailshots and free access to meeting rooms.

On the 'Remain' side the situation is rather simple: Britain Stronger in Europe is expected to be the only group seeking the formal In designation. The campaign says it has the backing of five political parties, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and three Northern Ireland parties - the Alliance Party, the Green Party and the SDLP, and Prime Minister David Cameron to make the case for the UK's continued EU membership.

Cameron, who has become the overall figurehead of the In campaign, says he fully backs the application, saying it draws support from "every corner of the UK" and that its opponents are "divided into at least two camps who can't agree on very much".

The only important defection in the Britain Stronger in Europe is that of the Scottish National Party. The SNP supports the 'Remain' campaign, however is running its own separate campaign in Scotland. Similarly, the Green Party of England and Wales has affiliated itself to Another World Is Possible - a different group formed by Labour MPs on the left of the party.

'Leave' campaigners said that key individuals backing Britain Stronger in Europe were past supporters of joining the euro while several organisations supporting the campaign group received EU funding.

The 'Leave' side is more divided, however the major group should be Grassroots Out, which has Nigel Farage among its backers.

The Grassroots Out application will be submitted by Farage and Tory MPs Peter Bone and Tom Pursglove. It says it has the support of Tory, Labour, UKIP and DUP politicians.

The other group backing Brexit is Vote Leave. It seems that it will submit its application at a later date.

This division in the 'Leave' campaign can have deep repercussion. Political parties and other groups can run their own campaigns but they will be limited to a spend of £700,000 if they register with the watchdog and will have to report the source of donations. If they don't register with the Commission they will be limited to spending less than £10,000.

Given these limitations, it is pivotal to be the chosen group by the Electoral Commission in order to have access to more funds and more media space.

 

 

Brexit

UK tells EU on Northern Ireland: Be responsible, be reasonable

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Britain's Trade Minister Liz Truss walks after the ceremony of State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, in London, Britain, May 11, 2021. REUTERS/John Sibley

Britain's trade minister on Wednesday (16 June) called on the European Union to be responsible and reasonable in a row over the implementation of Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit divorce deal, write Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden, Reuters.

"We need the EU to be pragmatic about the checks that are undertaken and that was always the way the protocol was drafted," International Trade Secretary Liz Truss (pictured) told Sky News.

"It requires compromise between the parties, and the EU need to be reasonable," Truss said.

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Brexit deal risks undermining Northern Ireland peace, says UK's Frost

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The historic US-brokered 1998 Irish peace agreement has been put at risk by the implementation of the Brexit divorce deal in the British province of Northern Ireland, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top Brexit negotiator said on Wednesday (16 June), writes Guy Faulconbridge.

The United States has expressed grave concern that a dispute between London and Brussels over the implementation of the 2020 Brexit treaty could undermine the Good Friday accord, which effectively ended three decades of violence.

After the United Kingdom exited the bloc's orbit on 1 January, Johnson has unilaterally delayed the implementation of some provisions of the deal's Northern Ireland Protocol and his top negotiator has said the protocol is unsustainable.

"It's super important that we keep the purpose of the nature of the protocol in mind, which is to support the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and not to undermine it, as it risks doing," Brexit Minister David Frost (pictured) told lawmakers.

The 1998 peace deal largely brought an end to the "Troubles" - three decades of conflict between Irish Catholic nationalist militants and pro-British Protestant "loyalist" paramilitaries in which 3,600 people were killed.

Johnson has said he could trigger emergency measures in the Northern Ireland protocol after its implementation disrupted trade between Britain and its province.

The protocol aims to keep the province, which borders EU member Ireland, in both the United Kingdom's customs territory and the EU's single market.

The EU wants to protect its single market, but an effective border in the Irish Sea created by the protocol cuts off Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom - to the fury of Protestant unionists.

Frost said London wanted agreed solutions to enable the Protocol to operate without undermining the consent of either broad community in Northern Ireland.

"If we can't do that, and at the moment, we aren't making a lot of progress on that - if we can't do that then all options are on the table for what we do next," Frost said. "We would rather find agreed solutions."

Asked if the Britain would invoke Article 16 of the Northern Irish Protocol to force a rethink, Frost said: "We are extremely concerned about the situation.

"Support for the protocol has corroded rapidly," Frost said.

"Our frustration ... is that we're not getting a lot of traction, and we feel we have put in a lot of ideas and we haven't had very much back to help move these discussions forward, and meanwhile ... time is running out."

Ireland's foreign minister said in response that the province's trading arrangement's were not a threat to the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom, but simply a means of managing disruption from its exit from the EU.

"Don't know how many times this needs to be said before it's fully accepted as true. NI Protocol is a technical trading arrangement to manage the disruption of Brexit for the island of Ireland to the greatest extent possible," Simon Coveney said on Twitter.

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Getting nothing back, UK minister says frustration is growing with EU

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Frustration in the British government is rising because London has offered a number of proposals to solve a standoff with the European Union over Northern Ireland but has not had a lot back, Brexit minister David Frost said on Wednesday (16 June), writes Guy Faulconbridge, Reuters.

"Our position is that we would like to find negotiated agreements that ... bring it back to the sort of light-touch agreement that we thought we were agreeing," Frost told a parliamentary committee.

"Our frustration ... is that we're not getting a lot of traction, and we feel we have put in a lot of ideas and we haven't had very much back to help move these discussions forward, and meanwhile ... time is running out."

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