Tue | Feb 25, 2020

UK PM May to skip Davos amid Brexit uncertainty

Published:Friday | January 18, 2019 | 12:00 AM
British Prime Minister Theresa May

Theresa May's office says the British prime minister will skip the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, next week to focus on resolving the Brexit crisis.

May had been expected to attend the gathering of world leaders and global power players in the Swiss ski resort. But her Downing Street office says she is "focused on matters here".

Britain's Brexit process is gridlocked, 10 weeks before the country is expected to leave the European Union, EU, on March 29.

May saw her Brexit deal rejected by Parliament and narrowly won a no-confidence vote this week. She was meeting Thursday with opposition leaders and other lawmakers in a bid to find agreement on a new Brexit plan.

May is due to publish a revised Brexit blueprint on Monday, before Parliament debates it on January 29.

Britain has put military reservists on standby for permanent service in the event the country leaves the European Union without a divorce agreement to smooth the way.

A cliff-edge no-deal Brexit on March 29 could bring gridlock at ports and disruption to the supply of goods because of the sudden need for customs checks and other measures.

Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster says an order has been made allowing reservists to be called up for a year of permanent service as part of "contingency planning for a no-deal EU exit scenario".

The Ministry of Defense has said 3,500 soldiers will be available to help if needed after a no-deal Brexit.

Opposition politicians condemned the move. Labour lawmaker Ian Murray said it was "staggering that soldiers are being put on standby because of the risk of a constitutional crisis of the government's own making".

Germany's parliament has approved legislation regulating a putative transition period following Britain's departure from the European Union, a bill described as obsolete by an opposition lawmaker.

Lawmakers passed legislation Thursday under which Britain would essentially still be treated as an EU member during the nearly two-year transition foreseen by the withdrawal agreement.

Alexander Lambsdorff of the opposition Free Democrats said that the legislation "is completely obsolete. We are voting on a bill that will never take effect".

But Florian Hahn, a lawmaker with Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right bloc, said authorities want to continue preparing for all eventualities and it's a signal that Germany wants to pursue the deal.

The leader of the Welsh political party Plaid Cymru has said it was "good to talk" to Prime Minister May about the Brexit deadlock.