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BREXIT: Full text of Britain’s farewell letter

Britain formally initiates process of leaving European Union with official letter invoking Article 50

Alexander Mercouris

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Yesterday British Prime Minister Theresa May signed a letter addressed to the EU, informing the EU that Britain is invoking its right under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to quit the EU, thereby formally commencing Britain’s Brexit process

Article 50 letter

Today that letter was hand delivered by the British government to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, and to the rest of the EU leadership in Brussels

article 50 tusk

Here is the full text of the letter:

On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states. On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March.

Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50 (2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community.

This letter sets out the approach of Her Majesty’s Government to the discussions we will have about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and about the deep and special partnership we hope to enjoy – as your closest friend and neighbour – with the European Union once we leave. We believe that these objectives are in the interests not only of the United Kingdom but of the European Union and the wider world too.

It is in the best interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that we should use the forthcoming process to deliver these objectives in a fair and orderly manner, and with as little disruption as possible on each side. We want to make sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and is capable of projecting its values, leading in the world, and defending itself from security threats. We want the United Kingdom, through a new deep and special partnership with a strong European Union, to play its full part in achieving these goals. We therefore believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the European Union.

The Government wants to approach our discussions with ambition, giving citizens and businesses in the United Kingdom and the European Union – and indeed from third countries around the world – as much certainty as possible, as early as possible.

I would like to propose some principles that may help to shape our coming discussions, but before I do so, I should update you on the process we will be undertaking at home, in the United Kingdom.

The process in the United Kingdom

As I have announced already, the Government will bring forward legislation that will repeal the Act of Parliament – the European Communities Act 1972 – that gives effect to EU law in our country. This legislation will, wherever practical and appropriate, in effect convert the body of existing European Union law (the “acquis”) into UK law. This means there will be certainty for UK citizens and for anybody from the European Union who does business in the United Kingdom. The Government will consult on how we design and implement this legislation, and we will publish a White Paper tomorrow. We also intend to bring forward several other pieces of legislation that address specific issues relating to our departure from the European Union, also with a view to ensuring continuity and certainty, in particular for businesses. We will of course continue to fulfil our responsibilities as a member state while we remain a member of the European Union, and the legislation we propose will not come into effect until we leave.

From the start and throughout the discussions, we will negotiate as one United Kingdom, taking due account of the specific interests of every nation and region of the UK as we do so. When it comes to the return of powers back to the United Kingdom, we will consult fully on which powers should reside in Westminster and which should be devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But it is the expectation of the Government that the outcome of this process will be a significant increase in the decision-making power of each devolved administration.

Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union

The United Kingdom wants to agree with the European Union a deep and special partnership that takes in both economic and security cooperation. To achieve this, we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.

If, however, we leave the European Union without an agreement the default position is that we would have to trade on World Trade Organisation terms. In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened. In this kind of scenario, both the United Kingdom and the European Union would of course cope with the change, but it is not the outcome that either side should seek. We must therefore work hard to avoid that outcome.

It is for these reasons that we want to be able to agree a deep and special partnership, taking in both economic and security cooperation, but it is also because we want to play our part in making sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world, projecting its values and defending itself from security threats. And we want the United Kingdom to play its full part in realising that vision for our continent.

Proposed principles for our discussions

Looking ahead to the discussions which we will soon begin, I would like to suggest some principles that we might agree to help make sure that the process is as smooth and successful as possible.

We should engage with one another constructively and respectfully, in a spirit of sincere cooperation. Since I became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom I have listened carefully to you, to my fellow EU Heads of Government and the Presidents of the European Commission and Parliament. That is why the United Kingdom does not seek membership of the single market: we understand and respect your position that the four freedoms of the single market are indivisible and there can be no “cherry picking”. We also understand that there will be consequences for the UK of leaving the EU: we know that we will lose influence over the rules that affect the European economy. We also know that UK companies will, as they trade within the EU, have to align with rules agreed by institutions of which we are no longer a part – just as UK companies do in other overseas markets.

We should always put our citizens first. There is obvious complexity in the discussions we are about to undertake, but we should remember that at the heart of our talks are the interests of all our citizens. There are, for example, many citizens of the remaining member states living in the United Kingdom, and UK citizens living elsewhere in the European Union, and we should aim to strike an early agreement about their rights.

We should work towards securing a comprehensive agreement. We want to agree a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU, taking in both economic and security cooperation. We will need to discuss how we determine a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, in accordance with the law and in the spirit of the United Kingdom’s continuing partnership with the EU. But we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.

We should work together to minimise disruption and give as much certainty as possible. Investors, businesses and citizens in both the UK and across the remaining 27 member states – and those from third countries around the world – want to be able to plan. In order to avoid any cliff-edge as we move from our current relationship to our future partnership, people and businesses in both the UK and the EU would benefit from implementation periods to adjust in a smooth and orderly way to new arrangements. It would help both sides to minimise unnecessary disruption if we agree this principle early in the process.

In particular, we must pay attention to the UK’s unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is the only EU member state with a land border with the United Kingdom. We want to avoid a return to a hard border between our two countries, to be able to maintain the Common Travel Area between us, and to make sure that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU does not harm the Republic of Ireland. We also have an important responsibility to make sure that nothing is done to jeopardise the peace process in Northern Ireland, and to continue to uphold the Belfast Agreement.

We should begin technical talks on detailed policy areas as soon as possible, but we should prioritise the biggest challenges. Agreeing a high-level approach to the issues arising from our withdrawal will of course be an early priority. But we also propose a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union. This should be of greater scope and ambition than any such agreement before it so that it covers sectors crucial to our linked economies such as financial services and network industries. This will require detailed technical talks, but as the UK is an existing EU member state, both sides have regulatory frameworks and standards that already match. We should therefore prioritise how we manage the evolution of our regulatory frameworks to maintain a fair and open trading environment, and how we resolve disputes. On the scope of the partnership between us – on both economic and security matters – my officials will put forward detailed proposals for deep, broad and dynamic cooperation.

We should continue to work together to advance and protect our shared European values. Perhaps now more than ever, the world needs the liberal, democratic values of Europe. We want to play our part to ensure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world, projecting its values and defending itself from security threats.

The task before us

We recognise that it will be a challenge to reach such a comprehensive agreement within the two-year period set out for withdrawal discussions in the Treaty. But we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU. We start from a unique position in these discussions – close regulatory alignment, trust in one another’s institutions, and a spirit of cooperation stretching back decades. It is for these reasons, and because the future partnership between the UK and the EU is of such importance to both sides, that I am sure it can be agreed in the time period set out by the Treaty.

The task before us is momentous but it should not be beyond us. After all, the institutions and the leaders of the European Union have succeeded in bringing together a continent blighted by war into a union of peaceful nations, and supported the transition of dictatorships to democracy. Together, I know we are capable of reaching an agreement about the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, while establishing a deep and special partnership that contributes towards the prosperity, security and global power of our continent.

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Britain’s Enemy Is Not Russia But It’s Own Ruling Class, UN Report Confirms

In austerity Britain, who the enemy is has never been more clear.

The Duran

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Authored by John Wright. op-ed via RT.com:


As the UK political establishment rips itself to pieces over Brexit, a far greater crisis continues to afflict millions of victims of Tory austerity…

A devastating UN report into poverty in the UK provides incontrovertible evidence that the enemy of the British people is the very ruling class that has gone out of its way these past few years to convince them it is Russia.

Professor Philip Alston, in his capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, spent two weeks touring the United Kingdom. He did so investigating the impact of eight years of one of the most extreme austerity programs among advanced G20 economies in response to the 2008 financial crash and subsequent global recession.

What he found was evidence of a systematic, wilful, concerted and brutal economic war unleashed by the country’s right-wing Tory establishment against the poorest and most vulnerable section of British society– upending the lives of millions of people who were not responsible for the aforementioned financial crash and recession but who have been forced to pay the price.

From the report’s introduction:

“It…seems patently unjust and contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty. This is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes to see the immense growth in foodbanks and the queues waiting outside them, the people sleeping rough in the streets, the growth of homelessness, the sense of deep despair that leads even the Government to appoint a Minister for Suicide Prevention and civil society to report in depth on unheard of levels of loneliness and isolation.”

Though as a citizen of the UK I respectfully beg to differ with the professor’s claim that such social and economic carnage seems “contrary to British values,” (on the contrary it is entirely in keeping with the values of the country’s Tory establishment, an establishment for whom the dehumanization of the poor and working class is central to its ideology), the point he makes about it being “obvious to anyone who opens their eyes,” is well made.

For it is now the case that in every town and city centre in Britain, it is impossible to walk in any direction for more than a minute before coming across homeless people begging in the street. And the fact that some 13,000 of them are former soldiers, casualties of the country’s various military adventures in recent years, undertaken in service to Washington, exposes the pious platitudes peddled by politicians and the government as reverence for the troops and their ‘sacrifice,’ as insincere garbage.

Overall, 14 million people in the UK are now living in poverty, a figure which translates into an entire fifth of the population. Four million of them are children, while, according to Professor Alston, 1.5 million people are destitute – that is, unable to afford the basic necessities of life.

And this is what the ruling class of the fifth largest economy in the world, a country that parades itself on the world stage as a pillar of democracy and human rights, considers progress.

The values responsible for creating such a grim social landscape are compatible with the 18th not 21st century. They are proof positive that the network of elite private schools – Eton, Harrow, Fettes College et al. – where those responsible for this human carnage are inculcated with the sense of entitlement and born to rule ethos that defines them, are Britain’s hotbeds of extremism.

Professor Alston:

“British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach apparently designed to instill discipline where it is least useful, to impose a rigid order on the lives of those least capable of coping with today’s world, and elevating the goal of enforcing blind compliance over a genuine concern to improve the well-being of those at the lowest levels of British society.”

Here, set out above in bold relief, is the barbarism that walks hand in hand with free market capitalism. It is the same barbarism that was responsible for pushing post-Soviet Russia into a decade-long economic and social abyss in the 1990s, and the values that have pushed 14 million people in the UK into the same economic and social abyss in our time.

Austerity, it bears emphasizing, is not and never has been a viable economic response to recession in a given economy.

Instead, it is an ideological club, wielded on behalf of the rich and big business to ensure that the price paid for said economic recession is borne exclusively by those least able to bear it – namely, the poor and working people. It is class war by any other name, packaged and presented as legitimate government policy.

However, in Britain’s case in 2018, this is a war like no other because, as Professor Philip Alston’s report lays bare, only one side in this war has been throwing all the punches and only one side has been taking them.

With Christmas season upon us, the scale of human suffering across the UK ensures that the elaborate ad campaigns inviting us to shop and indulge to our heart’s content – ads depicting the middle class dream of affluence and material comfort – take on the character of a provocation. In fact, they call to mind the truism that wars take place when the government tells you who the enemy is, while revolutions take place when you work it out for yourself.

In austerity Britain, who the enemy is has never been more clear.

 

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America Has Built 800+ Military Bases Worldwide. So Why Can’t It Build a Mexican Border Wall?

How did America arrive at a place where such a fundamental element of nationhood – the ability to control borders from any and all outside illegal intruders – be considered a radical concept?

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Authored by Robert Bridge via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The US government has constructed at tremendous cost to its taxpayers some of the most impressive structures – both architectural and organizational – of all time. Yet somehow it has failed to build a viable wall on the Mexican border.

In 1931, during the Great Depression, the US government began construction of the Hoover Dam, one of the most ambitious civil engineering projects ever attempted. Employing thousands of US laborers, some 100 of whom reportedly lost their lives in the course of the project, the dam is mind-boggling due its sheer size, rivaling that of the pyramids.

At 726 feet tall, the wedge-shaped structure is 660 ft (200 m) thick at its base, narrowing to 45 ft (14 m) at the top, which provides enough room to accommodate a highway connecting Nevada and Arizona. The project required millions of cubic feet of concrete – said to be enough to pave a two-lane highway from San Francisco to New York – and tens of millions of pounds of steel.

Many decades later, the US government undertook another extensive project known as the US Embassy in Baghdad. Although rarely discussed in the US media, this 104-acre slice of American property in a foreign country is so immense that it rivals Vatican City in terms of size [the Vatican is an independent city-state, complete with its own euro-based currency and security detail, located inside of Rome].

Officially opened in 2009, the $750 million embassy, which is situated in Baghdad’s so-called Green Zone, is by far the most expansive and expensive embassy in the world. Why does a foreign nation need a footprint the size of a small country to house a few thousand diplomats and private contractors? That is a very good question, but one that was never really pursued by legislators when Congress approved plans in 2005 for the mega structure under the Bush administration.

To this day, much of the complex remains under heavy wraps due to “security concerns.” Yet this behemoth cash cow continues to suck money dry from government coffers; in 2012, just several years after its construction was finished, the Obama administration requested and got more than $100 million for a “massive” upgrade to the compound.

Speaking of Iraq, which suffered military conquest at the hands of US-led forces starting in 2003, the United States also managed to find ways to construct some 900+ military bases around the world. Needless to say, this is no cheap venture, and helps to explain why the US military budget is approaching $1 trillion dollars annually – more than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, United Kingdom, and Japan combined.

In light of these monumental projects, it goes without saying that the United States certainly possesses the technical prowess and the financial wherewithal to perform the simple task of building a wall, and more specifically, a wall on the Mexican border. Yet thus far, and despite the fact that Donald Trump pledged on the campaign trail that would be his first task in office, the wall remains – a bit like Barack Obama’s past promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay detention center – a pipe dream.

How did we Americans arrive at a place where such a fundamental element of nationhood – that is, the ability to control our borders from any and all outside illegal intruders – is considered a radical concept? Since when did the universally accepted idea of a strong national border become an issue for debate and contention among our legislators? Since when have weak, porous borders become a desired state of affairs for a global superpower, and especially one that has a habit of attacking sovereign states? Part of the answer seems to lie within the present atmosphere of political correctness and identity politics that has conflated the need for a strong border with racism and even white supremacist ideology. More on that in a moment.

Just this week, part of the South American ‘caravan’ that the US mainstream media had called a “myth” has turned up on America’s doorstep in the Mexican town of Tijuana. Images show dozens of young men straddling the top of the border fence with none of the US troops that Trump activated in sight. Now, if the US Democrats had their way, these thousands of illegal aliens would be awarded amnesty and shepherded into ‘sanctuary cities’ where these individuals would slip undetected into the fabric of American society. And for those – including the US president – who voice opposition to this invasion, they are casually branded as racist or a white supremacist. However, the real motivation for the Democrats behind such ad hominem attacks is raw political opportunism.

The Democrats are actually building part of their platform on awarding asylum to illegals, and despite the fact that many of these people are not suffering political repression back home. In fact, most of these people just want to improve their financial well-being. In other words, the great majority of these new arrivals – as was established by on-the-ground interviews – are economic migrants.

And who can blame anyone for wanting a better life? After all, it was the incentive of economic opportunity that first brought millions of migrants to America in the first place. However, the difference between the migrants from past generations and many of those arriving today is that the former went through a lengthy legal process for entering the country. Today, it’s even worse than just a matter of legality; it’s a matter of criminality on multiple fronts.

What the US mainstream media fails to inform the American public is that the overwhelming majority of people from this so-called ‘caravan’ are young, male and oftentimes dangerous. This much was confirmed by Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch, one of the only Western journalists to actually travel to South America and report on the march of migrants firsthand. In addition to reporting that, in his estimation, some 98 percent of the migrants were young and male, he added that some of them bore tattoos that identified them as members of the notorious MS13 international crime gang. To get a better understanding of this caravan and the true makeup of its participants I would encourage the reader to watch Farrell’s interview in its entirety.

Now this leads us to the question of constructing a wall on the US-Mexico border. To date, those efforts have gone fizzled. In March, Congress passed its trillion-dollar spending bill; glaringly missing from the numerous pages was funding for construction of Trump’s wall. Instead, $1.6 billion was put aside for “border security,” as well as replacing parts of the existing fence. In other words, nothing that will prevent illegals from entering the United States.

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan said this week that the Trump White House has one last chance – with a lame duck Republican Congress still in place – to secure funding for the US-Mexican border wall.

“We should be focused on that one main thing over the next several weeks as we still have a few weeks left while Republicans control all of government,” Jordan said in an interview.

Time is ticking like a bomb for the American people to restore control over its southern border, and there is no good excuse for not completing this monumental project. Americans should not be cowered by accusations of ‘racism,’ when the country itself has been founded on the blood, sweat and tears of migrants throughout history. Much of the so-called racism that exists in America is a figment of the media’s hyperactive imagination. Nor should the expense of the project – considering the price tag for so many other US adventures and misadventures, up to and including wars abroad – be a reason for preventing it.

The overall cost of failing to protect America’s border will far excel the total price of a wall if action is not taken now. It’s time for America to act like a real nation – a superpower with a backbone – and protect its border.

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US Meddles in Interpol Election in Effort to Stop Russian Leadership Role (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 19.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at Interpol elections, which may result in Alexander Prokopchuk (a general in the Russian Interior Ministry and Interpol’s current Vice President) taking over as the President of the international police organization.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated that the US endorses acting Interpol head Kim for Interpol Chief, while four US Senators are urging nations to vote against Russian front-runner Prokopchuk.

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Via Zerohedge


Four US senators, and their mainstream media mouthpieces, are enraged at the idea that Alexander Prokopchuk – a general in the Russian Interior Ministry who is currently a vice president of Interpol – is the front-runner to become its next president; and have urged nations to vote against him.

The position in question became vacant after Interpol’s President Meng Hongwei was detained in his homeland China, pending a corruption investigation.

Based in the French city of Lyon, Interpol is a clearinghouse for police agencies around the world, helping them cooperate outside their borders. It is best-known for issuing red notices, or alerts that identify a suspect pursued by another country, effectively putting them on the world’s “most-wanted” list.

As AP reports, the Interpol presidency is more of a ceremonial position compared to the hands-on leadership role of the secretary-general. The president oversees the executive committee, which meets a few times a year and makes decisions on Interpol’s strategy and direction.

Interpol’s charter explicitly proclaims its neutrality, and two years ago it introduced measures aimed at strengthening the legal framework around the red notice system. As part of the changes, an international team of lawyers and experts first check a notice’s compliance with Interpol rules and regulations before it goes out.

But the potential of a Putin loyalist in such a prominent role has prompted concern among those critical of the Russian president’s leadership.

AP reports that Kremlin foes including financier Bill Browder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Alexei Navalny have warned that naming a top Russian police official to lead the international law enforcement agency will undermine Interpol and politicize police cooperation across borders.

As RT reports, the four US senators said in a statement, released on Monday, that electing Prokopchuk as the head of Interpol is “akin to putting a fox in charge of a henhouse.”

Along with the senators, media mouthpieces also added to the arguments:

Last week, a report in The Times named Prokopchuk, who currently serves as one of Interpol’s vice-presidents, “favorite” to lead the organization. The official also heads the nation’s Interpol bureau. His election as Interpol’s president will signify a “victory” for the Kremlin, the paper reported.

As soon as the report surfaced, the Western media published several opinion pieces, blasting Prokopchuk’s candidacy.

A Forbes contributor called him an “abuser-in-chief,” while the piece, published by the Washington Post editorial board on Monday, referred to him as “a wolf at Interpol’s door.”

Prokopchuk’s election would be “a colossal mistake and would imperil the organization’s integrity,” the Post editorial board wrote.

The Kremlin branded this “intervention” in the voting process, accusing unnamed Kremlin critics of trying to politicize the upcoming election of the Interpol president.

In a Tuesday statement Russian Interior Ministry spokesman Irina Volk lashed out at critics, which she did not name, accusing them of running a “campaign to discredit” the Russian candidate Alexander Prokopchuk.She said that Prokopchuk, who is an Interpol vice-president, is a respected professional, and, if elected, he will be leading the organization “in the interests of the international police community.”

Interpol’s general assembly is expected to elect its new president on Wednesday.

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