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#Trump accepts Queen's invite for UK state visit in June

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Donald Trump has accepted Queen Elizabeth’s invitation to make a state visit to Britain in June, becoming only the third US president to have been accorded the honour by the monarch, Buckingham Palace said on Tuesday (23 April), writes Michael Holden.

The trip is likely to be controversial given many Britons deeply dislike the man and reject his policies on issues such as immigration. Protests involving tens of thousands of demonstrators overshadowed a visit by Trump to Britain last July and organizers said they were planning a “huge demonstration” against his state visit.

The opposition Labour Party strongly criticized Prime Minister Theresa May for pressing ahead with the state visit, which May offered to Trump when she became the first foreign leader to visit him after his inauguration in January 2017.

Trump and his wife Melania will visit from 3-5 June, the palace said, adding that further details would be announced in due course. State visits are usually pomp-laden affairs featuring an open-top carriage trip through central London and a banquet at Buckingham Palace.

“The UK and United States have a deep and enduring partnership that is rooted in our common history and shared interests,” May said in a statement.

May, who is facing calls for her resignation from some MPs in her own Conservative Party over her handling of the country’s exit from the European Union, which is still stalled, will be hoping for strong backing for a post-Brexit US-UK trade deal.

 

The state visit would be an opportunity to strengthen already close ties in areas such as trade, investment, security and defence, she said.

During his trip last year, Trump shocked Britain’s political establishment by giving a withering assessment of May’s Brexit strategy. He said she had failed to follow his advice such as suing the EU but later said May was doing a fantastic job.

“This is a President who has systematically assaulted all the shared values that unite our two countries, and unless Theresa May is finally going to stand up to him and object to that behaviour, she has no business wasting taxpayers’ money on all the pomp, ceremony and policing costs that will come with this visit,” Emily Thornberry, Labour’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Trump’s visit in June, which coincides with events to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France during World War Two, will include a meeting with May in Downing Street.

Last year, Trump was feted with a lavish dinner at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of the British World War Two leader Winston Churchill, and he and his wife also had tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle.

The president then breached royal protocol by publicly disclosing details of a conversation he had with the 93-year-old monarch about the complexities of Brexit.

Trump’s state visit has been a divisive issue for Britons since May issued the invitation, with more than 1.8 million people signing a petition calling for him to be prevented from making such a trip, leading to a debate in parliament in 2017.

 

More than 100 protests were planned across the country during his visit last year and police had to deploy 10,000 officers, an operation that cost nearly 18 million pounds.

The largest protest in London attracted some 250,000 according to organizers, bringing much of the capital to a standstill.

They promised a 'Together Against Trump' protest in June.

“He is a symbol of the new far right, a politics of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, of war and conflict, and walls and fences that are growing around the world,” said Shaista Aziz, from the Stop Trump coalition.

The Queen, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, has met every US leader since Harry S. Truman except for Lyndon Johnson. Only two US presidents - Barack Obama in 2011 and George W. Bush in 2003 - have previously been invited for full state visits.

After leaving Britain, Trump will travel to France to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, the White House said.

Brexit

EU tells UK to say how long it will align with EU financial rules

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Britain must spell out how far it wants to diverge from European Union rules if it wants access to the bloc’s financial market from January, a top European Commission official said on Tuesday (27 October), writes

Britain has left the EU and access under transition arrangements ends on 31 December. Future access for the City of London hinges on UK financial rules staying aligned or “equivalent” to regulation in the bloc.

John Berrigan, head of the European Commission’s financial services unit, said Brussels has asked London for more clarification on Britain’s intentions to work out what is an “acceptable level” of divergence.

“We are almost ready,” Berrigan told the European Parliament.

“There will be divergence... but we have to get some mutual understanding of how much divergence is likely to happen, and is that going to be sufficient to allow us to maintain an equivalence arrangement.”

Brussels has granted temporary access for UK clearing houses, but chunks of stock and derivatives trading would move from London to the bloc without equivalence.

Separately, Britain and the EU are discussing a trade deal which would contain only limited references to financial services to avoid tying the bloc’s hands, Berrigan said.

“We see our regulatory co-operation in the financial services field outside the agreement,” he said.

It would consist of a “forum” similar to what the bloc has with the United States to assess potential divergence in rules ahead of time, he said.

“What we don’t want is an equivalence regime that is constantly under threat,” he said.

“We will need at the outset the direction of travel the UK want to go... so we don’t have to keep talking in emergencies about whether equivalence can be maintained or not.”

Britain has said that while it won’t weaken its high regulatory standards, it won’t be a “rule taker” or copy every EU regulation word-for-word to obtain market access.

Berrigan said market participants are generally ready for the “unavoidably fragmenting event” that full Brexit will be in January.

No trade deal would make future cooperation in financial services far more challenging, he added.

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UK will not back down on fisheries policy in EU talks: Gove

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Britain will not back down on its demands to the European Union over fisheries, minister Michael Gove said in a 26 October letter sent to a minister in the devolved Welsh government, writes William James.

Responding to concerns set out by Jeremy Miles, Wales’s Minister for European Transition, Gove wrote: “I am afraid we strongly disagree with your premise that we should ‘back down’ on fisheries.

“The UK government’s view is that in all circumstances, the UK must be an independent coastal state, no longer be bound by the Common Fisheries Policy.”

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Brexit decision entirely separate from US election outcome says PM Johnson

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Britain’s decision on whether to agree a Brexit deal with the European Union is entirely separate to the outcome of the US election next month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday (26 October), writes William James.

“The two things are entirely separate,” Johnson said, when asked about an Observer newspaper report that he was waiting to see the US result before making a Brexit decision, and whether he was concerned about the prospect of a Joe Biden presidency.

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