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Monday, June 27

UK electoral commission: no legal authority for petition for second Brexit referendum vote

June 27, 2016

The United Kingdom's Electoral Commission has told Sputnik that the petition to have a re-run of the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union has no legal authority.

The petition — which had garnered more than 3.7 million signatures by Monday (June 27) — calls "upon HM Government to implement a rule that, if the Remain or Leave vote is less than 60 percent based on a turnout less than 75 percent, there should be another referendum." 
The petition was originally started by a campaigner for the Leave group, William Oliver Healey, in May, when it appeared that the Remain group was leading the polls. However, he has said it has now been hijacked by the Remain group, unhappy at the outcome.
Sputnik asked the Electoral Commission if there was any such law or rule that suggested another referendum could be called if turnout did not reach 75 percent or that the vote is less that 60 percent.
A spokeswoman for the commission confirmed to Sputnik that "there is no such threshold in referendum legislation."
The petition has already passed the 100,000 mark, triggering a government debate on the issue, but is being investigated by parliamentary authorities, after it was discovered that 77,000 signatures were fraudulent, with many coming from the Cayman Island, Iceland and Tunisia.

The Vatican — with a population of just 800 — returned more than 39,000 signatures. 
Fraudulent Signatures
Helen Jones, the chair of the petitions committee, said:

"The Government Digital Service are taking action to investigate and, where necessary, remove fraudulent signatures. People adding fraudulent signatures to this petition should know that they undermine the cause they pretend to support.
"It is clear that this petition is very important to a substantial number of people. The petitions committee will be considering the petition at its meeting next week, and will decide whether or not to schedule a debate on it." 
Although the many non-fraudulent signatures exceed the trigger point of 100,000 for a parliamentary debate, this [does not mean] politicians in the Houses of Parliament will actually do anything about it. 

Erdogan apologizes to Putin for death of Russian pilot

It looks as if Ankara is fulfilling all the demands from Moscow about what it would take to normalize relations between Turkey and Russia. The three major demands are an official apology including acknowledgment of responsibility, reparations for the family of the murdered pilot, and bringing criminal charges against the person(s) responsible for the murder. That last is a tall order but from the RT report (below) Ankara is scaring up at least one sacrificial lamb.  

From an RT 'breaking news' television report within this hour, it sounds as if Erdogan's regime has shifted the blame for the Russian jet's downing to Davutoğlu, who is now gone from the regime. In any case Ankara is moving with alacrity to mend fences with Moscow.   

Here's analysis of the apology from Russia Today (RT) and Reuters.


Fast and Furious transplanted to CIA screwing around in Syria

CIA "running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate was attacked"
The CIA has been subjecting operatives to monthly polygraph tests in an attempt to suppress details of a reported US arms smuggling operation in Benghazi that was ongoing when its ambassador was killed by a mob in the city last year, according to reports.
Hey, that's the wrong report; that one's from 2013. This is the report: 

C.I.A. Arms for Syrian Rebels Supplied Black Market, Officials Say
JUNE 26, 2016
The New York Times

AMMAN, Jordan — Weapons shipped into Jordan by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia intended for Syrian rebels have been systematically stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives and sold to arms merchants on the black market, according to American and Jordanian officials.
Some of the stolen weapons were used in a shooting in November that killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman, F.B.I. officials believe after months of investigating the attack, according to people familiar with the investigation.
The existence of the weapons theft, which ended only months ago after complaints by the American and Saudi governments, is being reported for the first time after a joint investigation by The New York Times and Al Jazeera. The theft, involving millions of dollars of weapons, highlights the messy, unplanned consequences of programs to arm and train rebels — the kind of program the C.I.A. and Pentagon have conducted for decades — even after the Obama administration had hoped to keep the training program in Jordan under tight control.
The Jordanian officers who were part of the scheme reaped a windfall from the weapons sales, using the money to buy expensive SUVs, iPhones and other luxury items, Jordanian officials said.
The theft and resale of the arms — including Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades — have led to a flood of new weapons available on the black arms market. Investigators do not know what became of most of them, but a disparate collection of groups, including criminal networks and rural Jordanian tribes, use the arms bazaars to build their arsenals. Weapons smugglers also buy weapons in the arms bazaars to ship outside the country.Continue reading the main story
The F.B.I. investigation into the Amman shooting, run by the bureau’s Washington field office, is continuing. But American and Jordanian officials said the investigators believed that the weapons a Jordanian police captain, Anwar Abu Zaid, used to gun down two American contractors, two Jordanians and one South African had originally arrived in Jordan intended for the Syrian rebel-training program.
The officials said this finding had come from tracing the serial numbers of the weapons.
[At that point I threw up so I don't know whether the reporters ask whether the CIA had any tracking protocols in place]

Sunday, June 26

Assad breaks bread with frontline troops: "Best meal I've ever had in my entire life"

One of the pix AMN posted on the surprise visit

In pictures: Syria’s Assad makes daring visit to Ghouta frontline
By Zen Adra

Syrian President Bashar Assad made a surprising – and equally adventurous – visit to a raging battlefield deep in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta. Army soldiers fighting Islamist rebels in Kharabo village near Marj al-Sultan military airbase were struck to see their leader in simple casual clothes touring the trenches.

Assad shared Iftar meal with his Republican Guard soldiers after being briefed about the military situation by field commanders.

“This is the best meal I have ever had in my entire life”, he commented.

Assad has previously made such controversial visits to Army troops fighting Islamist rebels in Homs, Darayya and Jobar.


Fallujah 'fully liberated' from ISIS

Gah, there's not much left to liberate but congratulations anyway to Iraqi coalition

.(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) (The Associated Press)

"From the center of al-Julan neighborhood, we congratulate the Iraqi people and the commander in chief ... and declare that the Fallujah fight is over," al-Saadi told Iraqi state TV, flanked by troops.

Iraqi commander: Fallujah 'fully liberated' from ISIS
by Associated Press
June 26, 2016

Five weeks after a military operation began, a senior Iraqi commander declared Sunday that the city of Fallujah was "fully liberated" from the Islamic State group, giving a major boost to the country's security and political leadership in its fight against the extremists.

Recapturing Fallujah, the first city to fall to the Islamic State group more than two years ago, means that authorities can now set their sights on militant-held Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, visiting central Fallujah with the celebrating troops, vowed that the Iraqi flag would next be raised above Mosul. But that campaign has been progressing in fits and starts, revealing the deep divisions among the different groups that make up the security forces.
Iraqi troops entered Fallujah's northwestern neighborhood of al-Julan, the last part of the city under IS control, said Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, head of the counterterrorism forces in the operation.
The operation, which began May 22, "is done, and the city is fully liberated," al-Saadi told The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Voltaire Network comes up with conspiracy theory about Brexit

Consider the source, but given the mayhem over there in the U.K. nothing would surprise me at this point. However, VN might be a little behind the fast-moving events, which today are pointing to a second British referendum vote given the first one didn't turn out to Brussels' liking.

The White House and NATO prepare the sabotage of Brexit

Leaving the European Union, the UK ends its "special relationship" with the United States. But London is also a member of the agreement of the "Five Eyes" from the Atlantic Charter and co-founder of NATO (the British share all information concerning the Stay Behind network). Releasing the UK therefore means the collapse of the entire Anglo-Saxon system of world domination.

The National Security Council of the United States has developed a plan to secure the UK to Atlantic structures. It was decided to do everything to prevent the Downing Street appointment of the Conservative Brexit leader, Boris Johnson, and to promote a "consensus" personality able to "reconcile" the British. This personality would negotiate the terms of the exit from the European Union. For its part, the Union would propose to replace the current agreements with almost identical provisions. Following this process, the United Kingdom would have lost his seat on the European Council, but would remain de facto in the Common Market.

President Obama has appointed the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to conduct operations within the EU and George Osborne, the current number two of the Government to organize the ’consensus’ in the UK. Already, Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to resign before the US presidential election, while the Scottish Executive and the European press highlight the risk of secession to justify the call for a "consensus personality. "

The European Council was convened by the President of the Union, Donald Tusk, June 29, in the presence of the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg.


Political mayhem in U.K. as Corbyn counter-coup against Benn triggers mass resignations

Hilary Benn simply wasn't fast enough; Corbyn beat him to the punch. But now things are -- very unsettled.  The Telegraph is live-blogging the mayhem right this moment. 

EU referendum Labour crisis: Jeremy Corbyn to hold crisis talks with Tom Watson as Hilary Benn coup triggers ten resignations - with more expected to follow
By Laura Hughes, political correspondent, Barney HendersonRob Crilly
26 JUNE 2016 • 9:15PM
The Telegraph
9:25 PM The hokey cokey

Just published: front page of the Financial Times, international edition, Monday 27 Jun epic.twitter.com/5bzlh0CvKu— Financial Times (@FT) June 26, 2016

9:13 PM - Day of Turmoil in Labour Party: Jeremy Corbyn's leadership has been plunged into crisis as a string of shadow ministers quit Labour's top team saying they had no confidence in his ability to win a general election.

Karl Turner became the latest senior figure to announce he could no longer work with the Labour leader following criticism of Mr Corbyn's "lacklustre" anti-Brexit campaign.

He was the eleventh shadow minister to quit or be sacked in 24 hours.

The party's deputy leader Tom Watson said he was to hold emergency talks with Mr Corbyn on Monday to "discuss the way forward" after ten members of the shadow cabinet announced they were resigning - with more expected to follow.


 Lots and lots more in the report for those who can't get enough mayhem.

See also

BBC 6/26: Brexit: Hilary Benn sacked as Corbyn faces 'no confidence' pressure

CNN 6/25: Brexit: EU leaders demand quick UK exit as economic fallout grows


The attempt to reverse Brexit vote

In what passes for democracy in the European Union, the government keeps calling for a vote until the vote comes out right. Which is to say there are very powerful forces now seeking to reverse the Brexit vote.   

"In law, the UK could change its mind before withdrawal from the EU and decide to stay in after all." 

To Brexit or Regrexit? A dis-United Kingdom ponders turmoil of EU divorce
June 26, 2016 - 3:20 PM EDT


To leave, or not to leave: that is the question. Still.

After Britain's historic vote to leave the European Union, there is no indication that a so-called Brexit will happen soon. It maybe never will.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who is resigning, has said he will not take the formal step to an EU divorce on the grounds that his successor should. Because the referendum is not legally-binding, some politicians are suggesting a parliament vote before formally triggering Brexit.

A petition on the UK government's website on holding a second referendum has gained more than 3 million signatories in just two days.

European leaders, facing the biggest threat to European unity since World War Two, are divided over how swiftly divorce talks should start. Paris wants haste and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is urging patience. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he wanted to "start immediately".

And on Sunday, Scotland's leader said Scotland may veto Brexit altogether. Under devolution rules, the parliaments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are required to consent to any EU divorce, according to a report by the House of Lords.

Most British politicians agree such a decisive 52-48 win for Leave in the referendum means a divorce must happen. Anything less would be a slap in the face of democracy.

"The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered," a choking Cameron said in his resignation speech, which marked the most tumultuous end to a British premiership since Anthony Eden resigned in 1957 after the Suez crisis.

Still, the upswell of chatter - #regrexit is trending big on twitter - over whether Britain might be able to reconsider speaks to the disbelief gripping this continent in the wake of a vote that has unleashed financial and political mayhem.

Sterling has plunged, and Britain's political parties are both crippled. Cameron is a lameduck leader, and the main opposition Labour party on Sunday attempted a coup against its leader, with nine top officials resigning.

"The kaleidoscope has been shaken up not just in terms of our relationship with the EU but in terms of who runs our parties, who governs the country and what the country is made up of," said Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King's College London.

"It is very hard to see where the pieces are."


The law provisioning an EU member country's exit from the union is Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that is effectively the EU's constitution. It has never been invoked before.

Before the vote, Cameron had said Article 50 would be triggered straight away if Britain voted to leave. Over the weekend, several EU officials also said the UK needed to formally split right away - possibly at a Tuesday EU meeting.

But officials of the Leave campaign - including former London mayor Boris Johnson - are stepping on the brakes. They say they want to negotiate Britain's post-Brexit relationship with the EU before formally pulling the trigger to divorce.

European officials and observers say such a deal is unlikely, especially considering the thorny issues involved.

For example, it is unlikely that the EU would grant Britain access to the single market - key to allowing Britain trade goods and services in the EU - without London accepting the free movement of EU workers. But the biggest issue for those who voted to leave the bloc was limits on immigration - something the Leave campaigners promised.


On Sunday, a petition to call for a second referendum was gaining supporters, reaching 3.3 million signatories by the afternoon. David Lammy, a lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party, said it was within parliament's powers to call a second referendum and urged that it be done.

Perhaps the most vocal resistance to a British exit is coming from Scotland.

Scotland, a nation of five million people, voted to stay in the EU by 62 to 38 percent, compared to the 54 percent in England who voted to leave.

Under the United Kingdom's complex arrangements to devolve some powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, legislation generated in London to set off an EU divorce would have to gain consent from the three devolved parliaments, according to a report by the House of Lords' European Union Committee.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC on Sunday that she would consider urging the Scottish parliament to block such a motion. It is not clear, however, whether such a scenario would ever materialize or be binding. Sturgeon's spokesman later said that the British government might not seek consent in the first place.

Moreover, Sturgeon is simply laying out the groundwork for a new referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom --something the first minister said was "highly likely."


While there is no precedent for Article 50, the House of Lords has discussed how any Brexit would work. In May, it published a report after consultations with legal experts.

In the report, Derrick Wyatt, one of the professors involved, said that while it would be politically difficult, the law allows the UK to change its mind after invoking Article 50.

"In law, the UK could change its mind before withdrawal from the EU and decide to stay in after all," said Wyatt.

(Editing by Alessandra Galloni)


Saturday, June 25

The Big Canadian Business of War

Foreign Policy Hypocrisy: Canada Becomes Second-Largest Weapons Exporter To Middle East
By Kit O'Connell
June 24, 2016

"[E]verybody knows that there is rank hypocrisy right at the core of U.S. foreign policy but I don't think everybody knows that about Canada," one anti-war activist said.

OTTAWA — Despite its reputation as our less war-inclined neighbor to the north, Canada has become second only to the United States in weapons exports to the Middle East.
The increase in military equipment and weapons sales was noted by IHS Jane’s in its annual “Global Defence Trade Report,” published June 13 by IHS, Inc., a corporate data analysis think tank.
“Canada is the second-largest exporter of defence equipment to the Middle East with $2.7 billion in sales, moving the UK down the table to fourth place, just behind France,” IHS reported in a press release.
Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade told Sputnik News on June 16 that the report suggests Canada is undeSserving of its nonviolent reputation:
“The Canadian Government is regarded as a more peaceful one than the US. It’s regarded as a more liberal one than the US, everybody knows that there is rank hypocrisy right at the core of US foreign policy but I don’t think everybody knows that about Canada,”
Against the objections of some members of Parliament, Canadian-made arms have ended up in the hands of the Saudi-led coalition that’s waging a brutal war in Yemen which has killed thousands of civilians, many of them children, and left thousands more at risk of starvation.
Watch “NDP’s Hélène Laverdière on Canadian arms exports to Saudi Arabia” from Hélène Laverdière: [See Mint Press website]
According to the IHS report, defense equipment sales are up worldwide, hitting a record-breaking $65 billion in 2015. At $21.6 billion in imports, the Middle East received the lion’s share of that materiel.
“The global defence trade market has never seen an increase as large as the one we saw between 2014 and 2015,” said Ben Moores, senior analyst at IHS, in the company’s press release.
Jane’s and IHS reported that Saudi Arabia is the top recipient of imported arms and equipment, receiving $9.3 billion in military equipment in 2015. The Gulf kingdom has imported $36 billion in defense equipment over the last decade, making it the world’s top arms importer during that period, and it’s expected to import another $10 billion in arms this year.
Canada’s arms and military equipment sales reached new heights under Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who forged a number of deals with Saudi Arabia, including a $15 billion sale of armored vehicles that’s opposed by most CanadiansArms exports increased 89 percent under Harper, according to a January analysis by iPolitics.
But despite sometimes speaking out against war, Harper’s successor, Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, refused to back down from the armored vehicle deal.
Smith told Sputnik that Saudi Arabia is “one of the most brutal, violent oppressive dictatorships in the entire world.”
He also warned that Canada’s arms sales aren’t just a financial concern, but suggest the country’s implicit backing for the Gulf kingdom’s repressive rulers.
“Canada isn’t just selling these countries weapons, it is also sending them a message of political support,” he said.
Watch “The Canadian Business of War: CANSEC” from Motherboard:

Friday, June 24

"How did UK end up voting to leave the European Union?" Guardian analysis

"Decades of Euroscepticism and ministerial rebellion led to Britain’s self-ejection from a union that voters never fully embraced."

The Guardian analysis is quite long so I'm just going to provide the link; their take is helpful to people outside the U.K. and very interesting because it points to what is down the road for Europe.

So much excitement; I don't think anybody in the world who watches world affairs has gotten any sleep yet. How many news reports have I posted this morning on the Brexit vote? Ten? I need to snatch some sleep.

G'night all.  



Brexit: David Cameron to quit after UK votes to leave EU
7 minutes ago

Prime Minister David Cameron is to step down by October after the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Mr Cameron made the announcement in a statement outside Downing Street after the final result was announced.

He said he would attempt to "steady the ship" over the coming weeks and months but that "fresh leadership" was needed.

The PM had urged the country to vote Remain, warning of economic and security consequences of an exit, but the UK voted to Leave by 52% to 48%.

England and Wales voted strongly for Brexit, while London, Scotland and Northern Ireland backed staying in.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed it as the UK's "independence day" but the Remain camp called it a "catastrophe".

The pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 as the markets reacted to the results,

Flanked by wife Samantha, Mr Cameron said he had informed the Queen of his decision to remain in place for the short term and to then hand over to a new prime minister by the time of the Conservative conference in October.

It would be for the new prime minister to carry out negotiations with the EU and invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would give the UK two years to negotiate its withdrawal, he said.

"The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected," said Mr Cameron. "The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered."



Much more in the report including map showing how Britons voted in each region.


"Is 'Brexit' the Beginning of End for European Union?"

See also BBC June 24 report  EU Referendum: Brexit sparks calls for other EU votes

Is 'Brexit' the Beginning of End for European Union?
CNBC via NBC News
(Updated) JUNE 24 2016, 2:24 AM ET
First published JUNE 23 2016, 8:42 AM ET

"... the notion that integration is Europe's destiny — and irreversible — would be shattered."

Britons voted to leave the 28-member European Union and analysts are worried the outcome could have far-reaching consequences for Europe's political landscape.

A recent poll from YouGov showed that, out of seven countries polled, a majority in six of those felt that more countries would choose to leave the EU if a Brexit occurred.

Sixty-nine percent of Swedes believed it was likely there would be further exits from the EU "post-Brexit," with 66 percent of Danes and 57 percent of Norwegians feeling the same way.

"From the European perspective, the question of the outcome of the referendum is one thing, but I think if you take the broader picture then what the referendum shows is that you're dealing with these 'eurosceptic' and populist parties everywhere across the continent these days and so either way, whether the U.K. stays or leaves, I think that the main takeaway here is that the days of ever closer integration are basically over," Carsten Nickel, a political risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence, told CNBC in a phone interview before the results were known.

While the prospect of a Brexit triggering other countries in Europe to follow suit and decide to leave is not an immediate one it would "certainly sow seeds of doubt," according to Paolo Dardanelli, senior lecturer in comparative politics and acting director of the Center for Federal Studies at the University of Kent.

"Denmark and Sweden would be the ones to watch in particular, as their position would be significantly weakened," Dardanelli added via email.

Nickel went on to say that while the risk of countries pushing to leave was not immediate, the Netherlands —in addition to Sweden and Denmark — would be watched closely.

These countries would be in a position of relative strength — compared to other European countries who have been in weaker positions — if a conversation about leaving ever did take place.

"You could argue that the conversation about this could be different in a place like Denmark, or Sweden or the Netherlands, where you're looking at countries with well-functioning political institutions, and economies that are doing fairly well," Nickel said.

The tone of such conversations was already being set. "You have this already, where you have a conversation where people say 'we don't want to be paying for south Europeans who are incapable of reforming their economy,' so I think that's a problem," he went on to add.

Looking at the broader picture, Dardanelli said that there could be four main consequences of a Brexit, including, "the notion that integration is Europe's destiny — and irreversible — would be shattered."

Other ramifications Dardanelli pointed to include the further marginalization of EU members outside the euro zone, such as Denmark and Sweden; Ireland — a member of the euro zone but also closely tied to the U.K. — finding itself "in an uncomfortable situation"; and Germany finding itself "in an even more dominant position" whilst at the same time losing "a precious ally on issues such as economic reform, competitiveness, free trade and so forth."

The upshot, Dardanelli said, "is likely to be a less competitive, more protectionist EU."


Here we go: Brexit sparks calls for other 'Leave EU' referendums

Geert Wilders: "We want to be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy."

EU referendum: Brexit sparks calls for other EU votes
43 minutes ago

The UK's vote to leave the EU has sparked demands from far-right parties for referendums in other member states.

France's National Front leader Marine Le Pen tweeted "Victory for freedom" and said the French must now also have the right to choose.

Dutch anti-immigration politician, Geert Wilders, said the Netherlands now deserved a "Nexit" vote.

The UK on Thursday voted by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union after 43 years, in a historic referendum.

Analysts say EU politicians will fear a domino effect that could threaten the whole organisation.

Ms Le Pen hailed the UK vote, tweeting: "Victory for freedom. As I've been saying for years, we must now have the same referendum in France and other EU countries."

She is the front-runner among candidates for the presidential election in 2017 but opinion polls suggest she would lose a run-off vote.

Last Friday, Ms Le Pen had told a gathering of far-right parties in Vienna: "France has possibly 1,000 more reasons to want to leave the EU than the English."

She said the EU was responsible for high unemployment and failing to keep out "smugglers, terrorists and economic migrants".

Mr Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, said in a statement: "We want to be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy.

"As quickly as possible the Dutch need to get the opportunity to have their say about Dutch membership of the European Union."

The Netherlands faces a general election in March and some opinion polls suggest Mr Wilders is leading.

He said: "If I become prime minister, there will be a referendum in the Netherlands on leaving the European Union. Let the Dutch people decide."

A recent Dutch survey suggested 54% of the people in the Netherlands want a referendum.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said he believed the EU would survive the UK exit, but that "a domino effect on other countries couldn't be ruled out".

Follow the latest developments on our live page

Results in full

World reaction as UK votes to leave EU

Europe stunned by vote to leave


AP: EU chiefs meet as UK vote sends bloc into uncharted waters

"There cannot be any special treatment for the United Kingdom. The British people have expressed their wish to leave the EU. Leave means leave. ..."

EU chiefs meet as UK vote sends bloc into uncharted waters

By Lorne Cook, Associated Press
June 24, 2016, at 2:17 a.m.

BRUSSELS (AP) — Top European Union officials were hunkering down in Brussels Friday to try to work out what to do next after the shock decision by British voters to leave the 28-nation bloc.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is hosting talks with the leaders of the European Council and Parliament, along with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency.

The four will try to agree on a European position on the vote, which could see a member country leave the bloc for the first time ever, ahead of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels starting on Tuesday.

Parliamentary leaders were meeting separately, and European commissioners — the EU's executive body — could hold separate talks later.

EU officials have been aware of the possibility that a British vote to leave might come, but while the possibility of an exit is enshrined in EU law no one is sure how a departure would play out.

The head of the biggest bloc in the parliament fired an early warning shot at Prime Minister David Cameron that Britain should expect no free ride as it negotiates its departure.

"There cannot be any special treatment for the United Kingdom. The British people have expressed their wish to leave the EU. Leave means leave. The times of cherry-picking are over," European Peoples Party leader Manfred Weber said.

He insisted that the exit negotiations "should be concluded within two years."

This insistence on a "hard exit" is aimed at discouraging other countries from wanting to leave the bloc in the belief that they might be able to negotiate a comfortable partnership from the outside.

Many European officials fear the U.K. vote will play into the hands of the far right and left and fuel calls for referendums in other countries.

The exit vote also raises troubling questions about the future of Europe in the wake of the economic crisis, concern about Greece's place in the euro and the EU's inability to manage the refugee emergency.


Reuters: Brexit Leave vote "stunning repudiation of the nation's elites"

See also Reuters update page for breaking news on EU Referendum vote. 

"By 5.41 a.m. (0441 GMT), 93 percent of the vote had been counted, making Leave's lead impossible to reverse."

Britain votes to leave EU, unleashing global turmoil
Fri Jun 24, 2016 2:02am EDT

(LONDON) Britain has voted to leave the European Union, results from Thursday's landmark referendum showed, a stunning repudiation of the nation's elites that deals the biggest blow to the European project of greater unity since World War Two.

World financial markets plunged as nearly complete results showed a 51.8/48.2 percent split for leaving. The vote instantly creates the biggest global financial shock since the 2008 economic crisis, this time with interest rates around the world already at or near zero, stripping policymakers of the means to fight it.

The pound suffered its biggest one-day fall in history, plunging more than 10 percent against the dollar to hit levels last seen in 1985.

The vote will initiate at least two years of messy divorce proceedings with the EU and cast doubt on London's future as a global financial capital. The future of Prime Minister David Cameron -- who gambled the fate of the nation on an outcome he predicted would be catastrophic -- was doubtful at best.

An aide working in Cameron's office told reporters: "We're in uncharted territory ... Everyone's just really tired. They haven't slept."

The euro slumped more than 3 percent against the dollar on concerns a Brexit vote will do wider economic and political damage to the world's biggest trade bloc, stripped of its second largest economy.

Investors poured into safe-haven assets including gold, and the yen surged. European shares were on course to open 6 to 7.5 percent lower.

There was no immediate comment from the Bank of England. Global policymakers prepared for action to stabilize markets, with Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso promising to "respond as needed" in the currency market.

Yet there was euphoria among Britain's eurosceptic forces, claiming a victory they styled as a protest against British political leaders, big business and foreign leaders including Barack Obama who had urged Britain to stay in the bloc.

"Dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom," said Nigel Farage, leader of the eurosceptic UK Independence Party, calling the EU a "doomed project".

"This will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people ... Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day."

By 5.41 a.m. (0441 GMT), 93 percent of the vote had been counted, making Leave's lead impossible to reverse.

Asked if Cameron, who called the referendum in 2013 and campaigned to stay in the bloc, should resign if Britain voted for Brexit, Farage said: "Immediately."

The United Kingdom itself now faces a threat to its survival, as Scotland voted 62 percent in favor of staying in the EU and is likely to press for a new referendum on whether to become independent after its 2014 vote to stay in the UK.


Brexit: "The Bird Has Flown"

Huzzahs for Baron at Gates of Vienna for the best headline so far about the Brexit 'Leave' vote. Here's part of his commentary and the accompanying pix:

The Bird Has Flown
Posted on June 24, 2016 by Baron Bodissey

Gates of Vienna

"Britain is nothing if not soviet-like in its current political architecture. All British citizens know that they can lose their jobs, their benefits, and possibly even face prosecution if they hold certain publicly-stated opinions."

Despite the odds that the bookmakers were giving a few days ago (three to one against), Britain has surprised the world — and especially the world financial markets — by voting to leave the European Union.

That’s according to the latest projections, including the BBC’s. However, it’s still theoretically possible that the remaining constituencies will tip the vote back to “Remain”. Not likely, but possible. So keep the cork in the bubbly for just a little while longer…

I was convinced that a majority of Britons would vote for Leave, but that postal vote fraud and other shenanigans would make sure that the referendum would deliver the results required by Frau Merkel and Messrs. Cameron and Juncker. So that means that there must have been a VERY large margin of victory for Leave, given the amount of likely fraud.

It reminds me of the Nicaraguan election of 1990. Do you remember when the Sandinistas agreed to hold an election that ended up voting them out of office?

They were certain they would win. The opinion polls said they would win. Jimmy Carter — who thought the Sandinistas were jes’ fine — was sure they would win. That’s why he talked them into holding the election: it was a way to shut those nasty conservatives up for good, and give the communist dictatorship the imprimatur of electoral legitimacy.

But it didn’t work out that way. Nicaraguans went to the polls and voted the commie rascals out. There was only one explanation: Those voters must have —gasp! — lied to the pollsters.

Now why would any comrade in a socialist paradise feel the need to do that?

Britain is nothing if not soviet-like in its current political architecture. All British citizens know that they can lose their jobs, their benefits, and possibly even face prosecution if they hold certain publicly-stated opinions.

And they know that Her Majesty’s Government has full access to all their electronic communications, including telephone calls.

So when a pollster calls, the polling company and its sponsor may not know the voter’s identity, but MI5 certainly does! The intelligence agencies know the name, address, and bank balance of the person who owns that particular phone. They may even know what he had for breakfast, depending on how up-to-date his “smart” kitchen appliances are. And now they have a digital recording of what he just told the pollster.

So tell me: if you were a Briton with a functioning cerebral cortex, would you tell the truth to a pollster?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


BREXIT FIRST 100 DAYS: What to expect now that Britain has voted to LEAVE the EU

AFTER yesterday's referendum, here is a look at what will happen immediately following the historic vote for Britain to leave the EU.
PUBLISHED: 06:00, Fri, Jun 24, 2016 | UPDATED: 06:29, Fri, Jun 24, 2016
Express (U.K.)

Brexit: What to expect on the first day

The count for the EU referendum took place at polling stations across the country.

Local and regional results came in overnight ahead of a national declaration.

After Britons voted to leave the EU, huge celebrations among Brexit campaigners and Eurosceptics across Britain are being prepared.

Anti-EU politicians throughout Europe are also welcoming Brexit and look to seize on the result in order to further their own causes and pushes for independence.

U leaders will immediately be forced into damage control and are likely to issue a response in a bid to defend the integrity of the European bloc.

Mr Tusk told German newspaper Bild that Europe’s “external enemies will open a bottle of champagne” to celebrate a Brexit, adding: “We should do everything to spoil that party.”

A Brexit result has sent shockwaves through the global economy and is likely to lead to a further drop in the value of the pound. Britain’s currency had already weakened ahead of the referendum.

But Ukip leader Nigel Farage had earlier said: “Even if sterling were to fall a few percentage points after Brexit, so what? The point is we have a floating currency and it will be good for exports."

Straight after the EU referendum, eurozone finance ministers could hold emergency meeting as they did in response to the debt crisis and snap referendum in Greece last year.

Brexit: What to expect in the first week

After a vote for Brexit, there will be calls for Prime Minister David Cameron to step down because he will have lost his Project Fear campaign to stay in the EU.

Amid rumours of a plot to oust Mr Cameron, senior Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “If the country votes to leave the EU, he should – and probably will – choose to resign.”

However, many Eurosceptic MPs, including Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, had called on the PM to remain in the post regardless of the result.

The leaders of EU member states, meanwhile, are scheduled to meet for a summit of the European Council on Tuesday June 28 and Wednesday June 29.

The agenda for the meeting notes: “The leaders will discuss the results of the UK in/out referendum from 23 June 2016.”

At this summit, Britain could trigger the EU’s Article 50 - the law that would start the process of the country’s political divorce from the EU.

This step would in effect start the timer on the two year-period that Britain would be given to negotiate its exit of the EU before the end of June 2018.

Eurosceptic cabinet minister Chris Grayling says that the Article 50 should not be immediately activated, but Britain should aim to quit the EU in 2019.

The EU’s leaders could also call an emergency summit after a Brexit vote, while Spanish citizens are due to go to the polls in a general election on Sunday June 26.

Brexit: What to expect in the first 100 days

In the aftermath of a Brexit result, Britain would start lengthy talks to renegotiate EU agreements and build new trade links with Europe and the rest of the world.

There are concerns these negotiations could be made more difficult because EU bosses would want to discourage other countries from following suit by also leaving the EU.

As well as facing tough talks over Britain’s place in Europe and the rest of the world, the country could also face the prospect of another Scottish referendum.

Former First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond said: “Should Brexit succeed, Cameron would embark on a two-year negotiated exit, creating a time frame for a new referendum on Scottish independence.”

Anti-EU populist parties would seek to ride on the momentum from Brexit ahead of key elections in France, the Netherlands and Germany in 2017.

If Mr Cameron does step down after the EU referendum, bookmakers have ranked Eurosceptic Tory MP Boris Johnson as the favourite for the next Conservative leader.


"We've got our country back!" Historic 'Leave' Brexit vote

Many 'Leave' voters had a hard time believing the good news....

We've got our country back. Thanks to all of you. #IndependenceDay

Sputnik - Breaking News
Britons Spurn EU as Leave Camp Gets Over 16,700,000 Votes in Referendum
08:00 24.06.2016 (updated 08:15 24.06.2016)

Brexit supporters have gained enough votes to secure the victory in the historic referendum held to decide on whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union or leave the bloc.

Britain has voted by 52 percent against 48 percent to leave the European Union. The turnout amounted to 71.8 percent with more than 30 million people casting their ballots.
Britons went to the polls on Thursday to decide on a referendum that will decide whether or not the United Kingdom should remain in the European Union.
Brexit Watch tweet: TNS and Opinium got the referendum result right and saved the reputation of the whole industry pic.twitter.com/LZMivg60gt 
[see Sputnik for details]

Goodbye Mr Cameron and don't let the door slam behind you

British Prime Minister will address the country at shortly after 6:00 AM BST.

“As far as Labour voters are concerned, there are two issues. There is obviously immigration, but beneath that there is a whole set of issues about people’s lives and the fact that they don’t feel politics is listening to them.”

Corbyn will admit that the result paints a picture of a “divided country” and say that his party needs to begin the uphill struggle of re-engaging with working-class voters whose fury about immigration, wages and public services have led them to vote out.

Leave supporters celebrate the result in Sunderland after polling stations closed in the EU referendum. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Britain votes for Brexit after dramatic night leaves nation divided

Historic referendum vote in favour of leaving EU raises questions over futures of David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn

Anushka Asthana, Ben Quinn and Rowena Mason
Friday 24 June 2016 00.33 EDT
The Guardian

 The British people have voted to leave the European Union after a historic referendum in which they rejected the advice of the main Westminster party leaders and instead took a plunge into the political unknown.

The decision in favour of Brexit, following a bitterly close electoral race, represents the biggest shock to the political establishment in Britain and acrossEurope for decades, and will threaten the leaderships of both the prime minister, David Cameron, and the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
The value of the pound swung wildly on currency markets as initial confidence among investors expecting a remain vote was dented by some of the early referendum results, triggering falls of close to 9% and hitting its lowest level against some foreign currencies since 1985. Jeremy Cook, chief economist and head of currency strategy at WorldFirst, said: “Sterling has collapsed … It can go a lot further as well.”
By 4am, a series of key results signposted a likely leave victory. After a lower-than-expected margin of victory for the remain campaign in Newcastle, where it won the backing of 54% of voters, there was a jolt after midnight when leave captured Sunderland with 61.3% of the vote in a city which has traditionally been a Labour stronghold.
Cameron is expected to address the nation from Downing Street shortly after 6am, and leaving lead campaign Boris Johnson is likely to make a statement shortly afterwards.
Speaking at a party in Westminster, the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, declared Friday the UK’s “independence day”, and said the referendum result was a “victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people”.
Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, has said Cameron will have to resign if the UK votes for Brexit. “If there were to be a vote to leave, then as far as the prime minister is concerned I don’t see how he is going to remain in his job for very long at all,” he said.
Alan Johnson, the former home secretary and leader of Labour’s remain campaign, said earlier that he thought Cameron would have to quit if leave had won.
On Thursday evening Cameron was backed by 84 pro-Brexit MPs to remain as prime minister whatever the result, but around 50 did not sign the letter, meaning there could be enough to trigger a vote of no confidence.
Cameron has said he wants to stay on to trigger article 50 and start negotiations to take the UK out of the EU in the event of a vote to leave but there is likely to be considerable pressure for him to quit given the public’s defiance of his forceful calls for the UK to remain in the EU.
There was continued joy at leave parties during the night as swing areas across England delivered wins, often of a much larger magnitude than forecast.
The first declarations in some larger areas of London saw fleeting scraps of good news for remain but it was short-lived as traditional election marginals backed leave. Nuneaton, a central English town seen as a bellwether of middle England delivered a 66% vote for leave.
In Wales too, leave voters were dominant, after at least 18 of the 22 Welsh authorities had declared. Only three – the Vale of Glamorgan in the south, Monmouthshire in the south-east and Ceredigion in west Wales – voted to remain.
As expected, remain won in Scotland, although margins of victory and turnouts fell short of what was needed to stop the leave juggernaut in the southern parts of Britain.
Corbyn will admit that the result paints a picture of a “divided country” and say that his party needs to begin the uphill struggle of re-engaging with working-class voters whose fury about immigration, wages and public services have led them to vote out.
John Mills, a major Labour donor who has been campaigning for leave, said his party’s mistake was to link itself so closely to the in campaign, instead of understanding the concerns of its traditional voters.
Recriminations are already flying within the party, with some blaming Corbyn for failing to campaign robustly enough, while others have pointed the finger at Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, saying that she spent too much time attacking the remain camp and saying her “lacklustre” efforts resulted in a low turnout in Scotland.
A source within the SNP hit back at what she called a “poor attempt by Labour to deflect from its own campaign”. She said her party was securing remain wins across the country, while Labour had lost in its in heartlands.
Sturgeon was expected to speak on Friday morning, touching on the possibility of a second Scottish referendum after her country voted to remain in the EU, in contrast to England. Much of London voted convincingly to remain.
The vista of a sharply divided country with particular fault lines opening up between London and other English communities was repeatedly raised by Labour MPs reacting to the results.
The former Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “It’s a nation divided and the PM will have a big responsibility – particularly if it’s a remain win – to show he understands what people are saying on the leave side of the argument. Labour faces that responsibility too.
“As far as Labour voters are concerned, there are two issues. There is obviously immigration, but beneath that there is a whole set of issues about people’s lives and the fact that they don’t feel politics is listening to them.”
Pat McFadden, the party’s MP for Wolverhampton South East and a former shadow Europe minister, said: “It shows a country just split down the middle. Certainly for people voting to come out, immigration is very high on their list of concerns but there is also something else here too, a real sense of pessimism among people and their place in the UK.”

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