Brexit: No deal threat focusing minds, says Hammond

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images The threat of a no-deal Brexit is „focusing minds” and encouraging compromise, the chancellor has said.
Philip Hammond said the government was „determined to get a deal” before leaving the EU on 29 March but a „very bad” no deal outcome remained possible.
The government said talks on Thursday were „productive” and would „continue urgently at a technical level”.
Jeremy Corbyn, who met EU negotiator Michel Barnier earlier, again accused the PM of „running down the clock”.
Theresa May met the EU's Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss changes to the existing deal to win MPs' support on Wednesday.
May sees progress in EU backstop talks Tories 'manipulated by Brexit zealots' UK expectations meet EU reality on Brexit The prime minister said progress had been made on Wednesday over legally binding guarantees about the Irish backstop – the insurance policy to stop a hard border returning to the island of Ireland – but „time is of the essence”.

Scottish budget plans passed by Holyrood

Image copyright PA Image caption Derek Mackay and Nicola Sturgeon struck a deal with the Scottish Greens to ensure their budget will pass The Scottish government's budget plans for the coming year have been formally approved by the Scottish Parliament.
The budget will widen the gap between how much income tax higher earners in Scotland pay compared to the rest of the UK.
But it will also provide extra funding for education, the health service and infrastructure.
MSPs voted by 66 to 58 to approve the plans, after the SNP government struck a deal with the Scottish Greens.
As part of the agreement, councils could be given new powers to introduce taxes on workplace car parking spaces and tourism – with the government also agreeing to increase core local government funding by £90m and to hold cross-party talks on replacing the council tax.
Will Scotland introduce a 'latte levy'? Will you have to pay to park at work? Look back on the debate and vote with Holyrood Live Local ..

Andrea Leadsom fails to guarantee MPs’ Easter break

Image copyright HoC Commons leader Andrea Leadsom has failed to guarantee that Parliament's Easter break will go ahead as planned.
The House of Commons is not due to sit for two weeks in April – after the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March.
But Mrs Leadsom told MPs that the recess period remained subject to the process of agreeing new legislation.
Her Labour counterpart, Valerie Vaz, asked her if there were plans for the break to be cancelled.
„I understand some civil servants have been told that their leave is cancelled during that time,” Ms Vaz said in the Commons.
Mrs Leadsom replied: „We always announce recesses subject to the progress of business, and that remains the case for the time being.”
However, she said she was „confident” the necessary secondary legislation would be passed before 29 March.
Brexit: Are we running out of time? Is there enough parliamentary time for Brexit? Mrs Leadsom also told MPs that over three-quarters of the statutory instruments ..

MP Chris Davies charged with forgery over expenses claims

Image caption Chris Davies unseated Liberal Democrat Roger Williams at the 2015 general election A Welsh Conservative MP has been charged in connection with allegations over false expenses claims.
Chris Davies, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, is accused of two offences of forgery and one of providing false or misleading information for allowance claims.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said he was due to appear before Westminster magistrates in March.
It said the charges followed a review of evidence submitted by police.
Mr Davies was elected in 2015, winning the seat from the Liberal Democrats, and successfully defended it at the 2017 election.
A CPS spokesperson said: „In November 2018, the Crown Prosecution Service received a file of evidence from the Metropolitan Police relating to an allegation that Christopher Davies, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, falsified two invoices in support of Parliamentary expenses claims.
„Following a review of the evidence, the CPS has today charged..

Q&A: Who are the Independent Group?

Image copyright Getty Images So far, eight Labour MPs and three Conservative MPs have quit their parties and joined forces as the Independent Group.
From Labour, Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Ann Coffey, Gavin Shuker, and Joan Ryan have all left.
It wasn't long before Conservative MPs Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston followed.
Here we answer some of your biggest questions about what is now the fourth-largest group in Parliament.
Are there going to be by-elections?Jeremy Corbyn has said the Labour MPs who have quit the party should „resign and put themselves up for election”.
In a video posted on Twitter, the Labour leader said it was the „decent and democratic thing to do” because the MPs wanted to „abandon the policies on which they were elected”.
If an MP changes or leaves the party they were elected under, there does not automatically have to be a by-election.
This is because at the ballot box voters chose the individual th..

JusMin Toader to start appointment procedure for new Prosecutor General

JusMin Toader to start appointment procedure for new Prosecutor General2019-02-21 12:22:17Nr afisăriFolow us
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PlayJustice Minister Tudorel Toader announced on Thursday that he will start the appointment procedure for the new Prosecutor General of Romania.
„I will go to the Ministry and start the appointment procedure for the new Prosecutor General. At the end of April his [current Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar] mandate expires and, meanwhile, the procedure is being carried out, this way, by the end of the period, we will have a new Prosecutor General,” Minister Tudorel Toader stated upon leaving the headquarters of the Prosecutor's Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice. AGERPRES (RO – author: Mihai Stoica, editor: Florin Marin; EN – author: Rodica State, editor: Adina Panaitescu)
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Minister Intotero meets representatives of Brisbane’s Romanian community

Minister Intotero meets representatives of Brisbane's Romanian community 2019-02-21 12:17:55Nr afisăriFolow us
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PlayThe Minister for Romanians Abroad Natalia-Elena Intotero had a meeting with representatives of the Romanian community of Brisbane, Australia, who indicated their interest in keeping cultural and linguistic ties with Romania and the initiative of the Ministry of Romanians Abroad (MRP) to distribute folk costumes, provide educational support in Romanian and student camps.
According to a press statement released on Thursday, in attendance were about 50 Romanians gathered in the association „Unirea Brisbane”, as well as Romania's Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand Nineta Barbulescu, along with Romania's Consul General in Sydney Iulian Nitu.
„Although they have settled on the Australian soil many years ago, the Romanian community is connected to what is happening in Romania and, at the same time, they want to keep up their cult..

Brexit: What happens now?

MPs rejected Theresa May's Brexit deal on 15 January by a record majority of 230. They returned to the House of Commons on 29 January, and again on 14 February, to debate the government's response.
What is happening now?On 29 January a majority voted in favour of a non-binding amendment that rejected a no-deal Brexit.
They also voted in favour of an amendment that called for the backstop to be replaced with „alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” in Ireland, but otherwise supported the prime minister's deal.
The withdrawal agreement – what it all means
That is what the prime minister is trying to achieve despite losing a further vote on 14 February.
If the EU were to agree to changes and MPs backed the adjusted deal, that would be a great result for Theresa May.
But senior EU politicians have said they will not reopen the legal text of the withdrawal agreement that they negotiated with the UK.
If MPs aren't satisfied with any adjusted deal put before th..

Minister-delegate Ciamba meets Portugal’s StateSec Zacarias; discussions focused on EU developments in relation to current agenda

Minister-delegate Ciamba meets Portugal's StateSec Zacarias; discussions focused on EU developments in relation to current agenda2019-02-21 08:38:40Nr afisăriFolow us
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PlayMinister-delegate for European Affairs George Ciamba met on Wednesday with Secretary of State for European Affairs with Portugal's Foreign Affairs Ministry Ana Paula Zacarias. The discussions of the two officials focused on the working programme of Romania's Presidency at the EU Council and the ongoing developments at European level in relation with the current agenda.
According to a Foreign Affairs Ministry's (MAE) release, the topics tackled included the future of the European Union, the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the enlargement policy, the Economic and Monetary Union, the latest developments in the sphere of international trade relations, as well as the development of talks regarding the UK's withdrawal for the EU.
In this context, the R..