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For March 29 Brexit vote, Britain puts reserve soldiers on standby

London, PTI | Updated : 18 January 2019, 09:01 AM
An anti-Brexit demonstrator stands outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, on Jan. 16, 2019. (IANS photo)
An anti-Brexit demonstrator stands outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, on Jan. 16, 2019. (IANS photo)
HIGHLIGHTS
    •  A cliff-edge "no-deal" Brexit on March 29 could bring gridlock at ports. 
    • Reservists will be allowed to be called up for a year of permanent service.
    • 3,500 soldiers will be available to help if needed after a no-deal Brexit.

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 that the British Parliament rejected this week. It's unclear whether and to what extent that deal can be salvaged.

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 center-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 Theresa May about the Brexit deadlock.

Party leader Adam Price said Thursday after meeting with May that the discussions focused on what he called "the surest way" to break the stalemate: a so-called "people's vote" on Brexit.

Price said that "we had a fairly lengthy discussion about that and we set out some of the criteria which could be adopted. We are available to continue those discussions." He also said it is "essential" that May take the no-deal option off the table.

The prime minister is meeting with various opposition parties as she seeks a consensus in Parliament on how to proceed. She has thus far ruled out a second referendum.  

First Published: Friday, January 18, 2019 09:00 AM
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