MAY IMAGE NEWSMay vows post-Brexit UK will be leading investor in Africa


British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday pledged to prioritise investment in Africa as she started a three-nation visit to the continent to drum up new trade deals ahead of leaving the European Union.

Her tour of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya — May’s first to Africa since becoming premier in 2016 — is seen as an effort to reinforce Britain’s global ambitions after Brexit.

“By 2022, I want the UK to be the G7’s number one investor in Africa, with Britain’s private sector companies taking the lead,” May told business leaders in Cape Town, South Africa.

The G7 groups major industrialised nations but does not include China, which has become a big investor on the African continent.

“As prime minister of a trading nation whose success depends on global markets, I want to see strong African economies that British companies can do business with,” she said.

“I want to create a new partnership between the UK and our friends in Africa built around shared prosperity and shared security.”
May is facing pressure at home from so-called Remainers sceptical of her ability to forge trade deals once Britain severs ties with the EU, as well as from Brexiteers fearful she will not deliver a complete break.

“As we prepare to leave the European Union, now is the time for the UK to deepen and strengthen its global partnerships,” she said in a statement as she arrived in South Africa.

Former foreign minister Boris Johnson, whose July departure from the cabinet brought May’s government to the brink, said in his resignation speech that May’s current Brexit policy would hamper London’s ability to strike independent trade deals.

But May said Britain was well placed and had many companies ready to invest in Africa.

She announced a new four-billion-pound ($5 billion/4.4 billion euro) investment programme. There were no immediate details about the initiative.

May added that Britain would also host an African investment summit next year, and would open new diplomatic missions across the continent.

May will later Tuesday present President Cyril Ramaphosa with the bell from the troopship Mendi, which sank in the Channel in 1917 drowning more than 600 mainly South African troops who were set to join the Allied forces fighting in World War I.

It was the worst maritime disaster in South Africa’s history, and has become a symbol of its Great War sacrifice.

The bell was given to a BBC reporter in 2017 following an anonymous tip, according to the broadcaster.

The prime minister is also expected to visit Robben Island where former president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth.

May will head to Nigeria on Wednesday for meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari in the capital Abuja and with victims of modern slavery in Lagos.

On Thursday she will meet Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, shortly after his return from seeing US President Donald Trump in Washington and before he travels to China to meet President Xi Jinping.

The prime minister will also see British troops in training action and tour a business school, before concluding the trip at a state dinner hosted by Kenyatta.

China supports Zimbabwe election results


China, a key ally of Zimbabwe, has endorsed the country’s elections results and suggested that the international community needs to show more support.

Beijing on Friday urged all sides to respect the outcome of the presidential election in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared winner with 50.8 per cent of the vote.

The narrow margin is just enough to avoid a run-off against opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who dismissed what he called “unverified fake results”.

Opposition allegations of foul play had already sparked a deadly crackdown on protesters in the capital Harare on Wednesday when troops opened fire, killing six.

“As a friendly nation to Zimbabwe, we call upon relevant parties to put the interest of the country and the people first and respect the choice made by the Zimbabwean people,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said.

“We hope the international community will join us to make contributions to upholding the peace and development of Zimbabwe,” Geng said.

China, a long-time trade partner of Zimbabwe, joins Tanzania, South Africa and Burundi in accepting the poll results.

President Mnangagwa, who took power after veteran leader Robert Mugabe was ousted in November last year, was chosen as the successor in the ruling ZANU-PF party.

President Xi Jinping hailed Mnangagwa, who received military training in China when he was a young liberation fighter in the 1960s, as an “old friend” of the Asian powerhouse when he visited Beijing in April.

Beijing had long been one of Mugabe’s most powerful allies and a major trade partner, as the West shunned him over his government’s human rights violations, but it avoided publicly taking sides during his ousting.

At last, good news on Brexit: Britain is heading for Norway.

Source the Guardian


Norway here we come. This is the good news on the Brexit front. It will take two years. The voyage will be stormy and the destination messy. But plus-or-minus Norway offers the only sensible way for Britain through the Brexit morass. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer agree. Nick Clegg agrees. Most of the cabinet and the Tories’ remainers publicly or privately agree. So do those close to the Brussels negotiations. They still seem unable to shake hands on it, but they will soon.

The week has been full of hopeful signs. On Monday the EU’s Michel Barnier – a secret “Norwegian” – could not conceal his glee at his cobbled-together transition deal, nor could his British counterpart, David Davis.

The deal was a document of the most brutal realism. For now, the UK remains a non-participating member of the single market, with freedom of movement and right of settlement. Farmers and fishers are “as you were”. Britain can discuss “offshore” trade deals, but not agree them. Hard Brexiteers can go jump off a cliff.

The smart money in Brussels was always on the Norway option. The so-called European Economic Area was a simple “off-the-shelf” basis for a bespoke deal with the UK. The challenge lay not in negotiating it but in overcoming Theresa May’s belief that her fate depended on some 50 backbench leavers and the editors of the Sun and the Daily Mail. She was terrified of them.

Even so, the assumption was that, as the March 2019 deadline approached and the impossibility of a “frictionless” hard Brexit became ever clearer, Theresa May would be forced into a series of tactical retreats. The tough Lancaster House and Florence speeches, and Chequers last month, were dollops of fudge to keep hard Brexiteers on board. But this week’s transition deal would mark a parting of the ways. So it has appeared. The sight of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and assorted friends shuffling miserably into line, whimpering over dead fish, was heart-warming. So in a sense has been May’s and Johnson’s distraction over Russian poison, hysterically comparing Vladimir Putin to Stalin and Hitler.

A detailed analysis of the Norway option in last month’s Economist was unequivocally favourable. Norway in 1994 went through the same referendum debate as Britain, with the same drift towards compromise. The country remained in the European Free Trade Association (Efta). It stayed open to a single European market in goods, capital and labour, but it held aloof from the common fisheries and agriculture policies. Norway also stayed outside the EU customs union, to secure its own trade deals elsewhere. It is hard to see what substantive argument a Brexiter could have against this.

Norway fiercely denies it is a “vassal state”. It is rated by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the “most democratic” in the world. It must abide by EU rules on trade in goods within the EU. But so must EU members, who can be overruled by majority voting. On matters of joint concern, such as energy, Norway is consulted and heard. Its lobbying office next to the Berlaymont building is more effective than any council vote. As for the European court, the Efta court liaises with it and is rarely in conflict.

Trade in services and finance is more crucial to the UK than in goods, and here both Europe and the world would remain its oyster, as this EU single market is in its infancy. As for migration, Efta arrangements embrace a register of EU nationals, controls on their citizenship and property ownership and expulsion if they are out of work for six months. A mere 20% of Norwegians regret their Efta status. Of course Norway is smaller than the UK. But the issue is whether its model is practicable. It is.

The one argument against the Norway option for Britain is that it would lie outside the customs union. How valuable this freedom is to Norway’s economy is moot. Efta has laboriously reached deals with 38 countries, including Canada. But it requires a hard border with Sweden to enforce country-of-origin controls. Since such a border is anathema in Northern Ireland, Norway plus customs union with the EU makes sense. I have seen no calculation that shows an advantage to UK trade in being outside one.

Yes, Britain would pay into the EU for all this, as does Norway. But Norway’s money is carefully earmarked for grants, scholarships and projects. Likewise there are disciplines with “regulatory alignment” within an EU single market. But they did not worry Thatcher when she co-invented the market in 1985. Leaving the EU would usefully repatriate some controls, as over farming, construction standards, procurement and the environment. Britain, like Norway, could opt out of fish quotas. But these are trading practicalities not issues of principle. They are about how to make the best of “the decision to leave”, not about following a neo-imperial will-o’-the-wisp.

What Britons thought they were “leaving” in 2016 remains opaque. No replacement question was asked. Britain will withdraw from the EU, but what takes its place must be a decision for parliament. Everything we read from polls and surveys suggests there is no majority for trade barriers at Calais or a ban on European care workers or plumbers. Public opinion wants soft Brexit. It wants Norway.

The last time Norway featured prominently in the Commons was in 1940. British failure against the Nazis cost Chamberlain his job, but these events formed the basis for victory and reconstruction. Sooner or later, the Commons will debate Norway again: whether the UK should remain within a single market and customs union, however camouflaged. When that happens, May will drive her hard Brexiters into sullen acceptance or resignation. But she can tell them her hands have been tied to a Norwegian mast. If so, history could regard her twisting and tacking, her softly, softly Brexit strategy as the most brilliant of political manoeuvres. But I am not holding my breath.

Simon Jenkins is a Guardian columnist

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Brexit transition deal: ‘Significant step’ made as Tory civil war looms


Significant concessions are made on the rights of EU citizens arriving after 2019 and control over fishing quotas.

The UK secured a key concession from Brussels by winning the right to sign trade deals with non-EU countries.

However, they will not come into force until after the transition ends,the document states.

There is still no agreement on the EU’s so-called ‘punishment clause’ that would restrict Britain’s access to the single market during the transition. The draft text appears to have softened following a leak in February.

A joint committee of representatives from both sides was also announced to arbitrate on disagreements for the 21 months after Brexit day.

David Davis and European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier
Image:David Davis won concessions to scrap the ‘punishment clause’

But the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, won a battle to define 13 key areas – including health and education – that could form part of a “common regulatory area” in Northern Ireland in case of no deal.

He also secured the same rights for EU citizens who arrive in the UK during the transition period as those in the country before March 2019

London CityCulture-UNION JACK





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