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With Divorce Deal Almost Done, May Repeats Rejection Of EU Proposal On Northern Ireland

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With Divorce Deal Almost Done, May Repeats Rejection Of EU Proposal On Northern Ireland

Prime Minister Theresa May will on Monday say that 95 percent of Britain’s Brexit deal has been agreed but repeat her opposition to a European Union proposal for the Irish border, a major stumbling block, as criticism within her party grows.

Facing some of the fiercest attacks to date over her Brexit plans after again failing to clinch a deal at an EU summit last week, May will try to calm passions in parliament where her strategy has angered euroskeptics and EU supporters alike.

With just over five months until Britain is scheduled to exit the EU, talks have stalled over a disagreement on the so-called Northern Irish “backstop”, an insurance policy to ensure there will be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland if a future trading relationship is not agreed in time.

But May’s attempt to unlock the talks by considering an extension to a status-quo transition period beyond the current proposed end date of December 2020 has further riled both pro- and anti-EU factions in her deeply split Conservative Party.

In an attempt to highlight how much progress has been made in more than a year of talks with the EU, she will tell parliament the government has reached agreement on everything from Gibraltar to future security over the last three weeks.

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“Taking all of this together, 95 per cent of the Withdrawal Agreement and its protocols are now settled,” May will say, according to excerpts from her statement to parliament.

“The shape of the deal across the vast majority of the Withdrawal Agreement is now clear.”

But the deal – the terms of Britain’s divorce – cannot be signed off until the two sides settle on future management of the border between Northern Ireland, a British province, and EU member state Ireland.

Both sides are committed to keeping the border open, a key aspect of a 1998 peace deal that ended decades of Irish sectarian bloodshed.

The EU proposal – for Northern Ireland to remain in the bloc’s customs union – has been rejected by May as it would potentially create barriers to trade with the rest of Britain, something ruled out by a pro-Brexit Northern Irish party that props up her minority government.

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At an EU summit in Brussels last week, any agreement seemed just as far off as it did months earlier, with EU officials and diplomats saying May had offered nothing new to ease the deadlock.

Since then, her proposal to extend the transition period has stoked anger among Conservative euroskeptics, who fear she is leading Britain into a deal that will make Britain “vassal state” indefinitely – unable ever to fully leave the EU.

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Critics of May used Britain’s Sunday newspapers to rhetorically savage the British leader, with unnamed rivals using phrases such as “assassination is in the air”.

A vote of no-confidence in May would be triggered if 48 Conservative lawmakers submit letters to the chairman of the party’s so-called “1922 Committee” of backbenchers demanding such a vote. The Sunday Times said 46 had now been sent.

The newspapers reported May had been summoned to address Conservative lawmakers in a private meeting on Wednesday. The Daily Telegraph said she had held a 90-minute conference call with her top ministers on Sunday to try and shore up support.

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On Wednesday one prominent hardline Brexiteer, former junior Brexit minister Steve Baker, will try to block the EU’s backstop plan by attaching amendments to legislation passing through parliament that would effectively make the proposal illegal.

May used a piece in Monday’s Sun newspaper to stress that the Brexit negotiations were not about her and her future.

“When I’m confronted with tough choices during the Brexit negotiations, I don’t think about what the implications are for me. Instead, I ask myself what it means for you, for your family and for the whole of the United Kingdom,” she wrote.

“Because the Brexit talks are not about me or my personal fortunes. They’re about the national interest – and that means making the right choices, not the easy ones.”

On Sunday, Brexit minister Dominic Raab pushed forward the suggestion of extending the transition period, saying London could accept such a move if the EU dropped its proposal for a backstop without time limit, which May says would tear Northern Ireland away from mainland Britain.

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UPDATES: Dutch Police Arrest Suspect In Deadly Tram Shooting

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Dutch Police Arrest Suspect In Deadly Tram Shooting

Dutch police have arrested The suspect in the deadly tram shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, officials say.

Motive for the shooting remains unclear; police have said they were investigating a “possible terrorist motive” for the attack, but reports have also emerged that the shooting might have its roots in a family dispute.

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The shooting incident occurred in the Dutch city of Utrecht where a gunman opened fire on a tram in the central part of the city on Monday killing at least three persons and wounding nine.

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Utrecht police have released a photo of the suspect. He is Gokmen Tanis, a 37-year-old Turkish national.

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Utrecht Shooting: Gunman Kills 3 People On Dutch Tram In Possible Terrorist Attack

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Utrecht Shooting: Gunman Kills 3 People On Dutch Tram In Possible Terrorist Attack

A shooting incident has occurred just a few hours ago in the Dutch city of Utrecht where a gunman opened fire on a tram in the central part of the city on Monday killing at least three persons and wounding nine.

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The terror threat level around the city has been raised to maximum. They say the incident is being considered a possible terrorist incident.

Utrecht police have released a photo of the suspect.  He is Gokmen Tanis, a 37-year-old Turkish national.

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Police say there is the possibility there could be more than one shooter involved in the attack.

In neighboring Germany, police were carrying out checks on trains from the Netherlands and manning highways as well as mirror border crossings.

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Utrecht Shooting: Three Die In Tram Attack, Police Hunt For Turkish Man

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Utrecht Shooting: Three Die In Tram Attack, Police Hunt For Turkish Man

Dutch security forces were hunting for a 37-year-old Turkish man suspected of having shot several people, three of them fatally, on a tram in the city of Utrecht on Monday, in what authorities said appeared to be a terrorist attack.

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Dutch authorities raised the terrorism threat to its highest level in Utrecht province, schools were told to shut their doors and paramilitary police increased security at airports and other vital infrastructure and also at mosques.

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