Video: Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich Gets Israeli Citizenship (Provided by Wochit News)
Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club, who have faced difficulties obtaining a new UK visa, will not be allowed to work in Britain if he travels here on his new Israeli passport, Downing Street has said.
It emerged on Monday that the formerly Russian-based billionaire, a regular presence in Britain since he bought Chelsea in 2003, had been granted Israeli citizenship and was moving to Tel Aviv.
Abramovich, who had reportedly faced delays in renewing his UK visa, will be allowed to visit the UK visa-free for up to six months at a time with his Israeli passport, but cannot work in the country, Theresa May’s spokesman said.
While stressing he could not comment on individual cases, the spokesman outlined the general situation, saying: “Those with Israeli passports are non-visa nationals, which means they do not need a visa to come to the UK as a visitor for a maximum period of six months.”
He added: “Israelis are required to obtain a visa if they want to live, work or study in the UK.”
The spokesman said it was up to immigration authorities to monitor how these conditions were adhered to, and the Home Office would have more details on what could constitute work in such instances. The Home Office was contacted for details.
Israel’s interior ministry confirmed the offer of citizenship on Monday. “Roman Abramovich arrived at the Israeli embassy in Moscow like any other person,” an Israeli government spokesperson said. “He filed a request to receive an immigration permit, his documents were checked according to the law of return, and he was indeed found eligible.”
Israel grants citizenship to any Jewish person wishing to move there, and a passport can be issued immediately. Abramovich, who is Jewish and has been a regular visitor to Israel, has donated millions to Israeli research and development projects and invested in local firms.
Abramovich has not commented on recent developments. However, it is believed he could have been asked to explain the source of his wealth before he could be granted a new UK visa.
His previous tier-1 visa, which allows anyone who invests more than £2m in the British economy to stay for 40 months, was granted before tighter regulations were introduced in April 2015.
Last week Downing Street said that while it could not comment on individual cases, it was the “logical conclusion” that some wealthy individuals who had applied under the investment visa route before the changes would no longer be eligible.
The government launched a further crackdown on wealthy investors coming to the UK after the Salisbury poisoning, increasing tensions between Britain and Russia. (The Guardian)
The European Commission has announced that “sufficient progress” has been made in the first phase of Brexit talks.The announcement came after Theresa May and David Davis made an early-hours journey to Brussels to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
The announcement came after Theresa May and David Davis made an early-hours journey to Brussels
It followed talks which continued into the early hours between the Prime Minister and Democratic Unionist Party, Arlene Foster, whose party scuppered a deal at the eleventh hour on Monday.
Mrs Foster said that “substantial changes” to the text rejected on Monday would mean there was “no red line down the Irish Sea” in the form of a customs barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Mr Juncker said that the decision on whether to move forward to talks on trade and the transition to a post-Brexit relationship was in the hands of the leaders of the 27 other EU nations, meeting in Brussels at a European Council summit on Thursday, but said he was “confident” they would do so.
The Commission president said: “I will always be sad about this development, but now we must start looking to the future, a future in which the UK will remain a close friend and ally.”
Mrs May said that intensive talks over the past few days had delivered “a hard-won agreement in all our interests”.
The Prime Minister said that the agreement would guarantee the rights of three million EU citizens in the UK “enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts”.
She said that it included a financial settlement which was “fair to the British taxpayer” and a guarantee that there will be “no hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic, preserving the “constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom”.
She said that the agreement between the UK and the Commission, being published in a joint report, would offer “welcome certainty” to businesses.
Under the terms of the negotiations being carried out under Article 50 of the EU treaties, the European Council must agree that sufficient progress has been made on the divorce issues of citizens’ rights, the Irish border and the UK’s financial settlement before talks can move on to the issues of trade and transition.
The publication of the joint report makes it all but certain that EU27 leaders will approve this step on Thursday, marking a significant step forward in the process leading towards UK withdrawal in March 2019.
It eases pressure on Mrs May, who was facing the prospect of businesses activating contingency plans to move staff and activities out of the UK if no progress had been made by the end of the year.
Mr Juncker cautioned: “The joint report is not the withdrawal agreement. That agreement needs to be drafted by the negotiators on the basis we have agreed yesterday and today and then approved by the Council and ratified by the UK Parliament and European Parliament.”
He said that he and Mrs May had discussed the need for a transition period following the formal date of Brexit, and shared “a joint vision of a deep and close partnership”.
“It is crucial for us all that we continue working closely together on issues such as trade, research, security and others,” he said.
“We will take things one step at a time, starting with next week’s European Council, but today I am hopeful that we are all moving towards the second phase of these challenging negotiations and we can do this jointly on the basis of renewed trust, determination and with the perspective of a renewed friendship.”
Mrs May said that the negotiation process “hasn’t been easy for either side”.
“When we met on Monday, we said a deal was within reach,” said the PM. “What we have arrived at today represents a significant improvement.”
Mrs May said: “I very much welcome the prospect of moving ahead to the next phase, to talk about trade and security and to discuss the positive and ambitious future relationship that is in all of our interests.”
She added: “The deal we’ve struck will guarantee the rights of more than three million EU citizens living in the UK and of a million UK citizens living in the EU.
“EU citizens living in the UK will have their rights enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts. They will be able to go on living their lives as before.”
On the issue of the UK’s so-called “divorce bill”, which is expected to total up to £50 billion, Mrs May said that in her landmark speech in Florence in September she had made clear the UK was “a country that honours our obligations”.
She said: “After some tough conversations, we’ve now agreed a settlement that is fair to the British taxpayer. It means that in future we will be able to invest more in our priorities at home, such as housing, schools and the NHS.”
And on the Irish issue, she said the UK would “guarantee there is no hard border and uphold the Belfast Agreement, and in doing so, we will continue to preserve the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom”.
Ireland’s deputy prime minister Simon Coveney said the government was content at assurances it had achieved about avoiding a hard border. He said there was now “no scenario” that would result in new border checkpoints.
“Ireland supports Brexit negotiations moving to phase two now that we have secured assurances for all on the island of Ireland,” he said.
He said the deal “fully protected” the Good Friday Agreement, the peace process and an all-Ireland economy.
Mrs May said that the agreement delivers on the principle, to which she and Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar committed themselves in talks on Thursday, that “there should be no barriers, either north/south or east/west”.
She said she would write to the people of Northern Ireland on Friday to set out the approach.
Mrs May said she was “optimistic” about the trade talks which will stretch through much of 2018.
“In the meantime, reaching this agreement now ensures that businesses will be able to make investment decisions based on an implementation period that offers welcome certainty,” she said.
Asked whether she had ever considered during negotiations that “maybe after all, this whole Brexit affair is a very bad idea”, Mrs May said: “In 2016, the British people were given in a referendum the opportunity to choose whether to stay in the EU or not.
“Parliament was united across all parties in Parliament. A significant majority agreed that that decision would be given to the British people. The British people voted and they voted to leave the European Union.
“I believe it’s a matter of trust and integrity in politicians. I believe the people should be able to trust that their politicians will put into place what they have determined. That’s exactly what we are doing and we will leave the European Union.”
Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said “substantial progress” had been made from the text her party rejected on Monday.
Mrs Foster, who negotiated directly with Mrs May into the early hours of Friday, said Northern Ireland would now leave the single market and customs union and insisted there would be no border down the Irish sea, dividing Northern Ireland with the rest of the UK.
“There will be no so-called ‘special status’ for Northern Ireland as demanded by Sinn Fein,” she told the Press Association.
“Northern Ireland will not be separated constitutionally, politically, economically or regulatory from the rest of the United Kingdom and the joint UK-EU report at the conclusion of phase one makes clear that in all circumstances the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market.”
But the DUP leader made clear there was “still more work to be done”. (Press Associaion)
Theresa May was told to commit to a Brexit divorce settlement within a fortnight or face a collapse in economic confidence in Britain, according to European business leaders at a confrontational Downing Street summit on Monday.
“We told them that they’ve lost a year because nothing happened. Now you have two weeks in which you have to be very clear,” said Emma Marcegaglia, president of BusinessEurope, which organised the 14-strong delegation.
“We appreciated the [prime minister’s] Florence speech but now you have to go from kind words to concrete, clear proposals,” she added, after more than an hour spent presenting their concerns to senior ministers in Downing Street.
May and her colleagues were told of specific concerns about the future of the automotive, aerospace and pharmaceuticals industries if high tariff barriers followed a hard Brexit and were presented with a CBI survey showing up to 60% of UK businesses would be forced to make contingency plans by this March.
“This is very, very bad,” said Marcegaglia, who was previously head of the Italian business lobby Confindustria. “If [businesses] don’t have certainty, they will simply go away.”
This is very urgent now,” added the CBI director general, Carolyn Fairbairn. “Firms will soon have no choice but to assume the worst in terms of planning for no deal.”
Downing Street said business leaders were told that progress was being made in the Brexit negotiations and that it shared their desire for a transition phase.
“The prime minister reassured the group that Brexit meant the UK was leaving the EU, not Europe, and reiterated her ambition for free and frictionless trade with the EU27 once the UK departs,” said a Downing Street spokesperson. “She also expressed her commitment to giving businesses the certainty they need by agreeing a time-limited implementation period as soon as possible.”
But those present at the meeting said participants were frustrated at the apparent lack of urgency.
Danny McCoy, the chief executive officer of Ibec, Ireland’s equivalent of the CBI, said its message to May was clear: “Business is increasingly frustrated and concerned at the lack of progress in negotiations. To move past the first phase of talks, which covers Ireland, the financial settlement and citizens’ rights, we need practical solutions and firm commitments, not just rhetoric.”
Speaking after the meeting, McCoy urged the government to stop treating Brexit like an opportunity for short-term gain and to focus on the long-term consequences.
“The polarised and fraught nature of the British debate is not conducive to the sophisticated compromises needed to steer the country away from a divisive, damaging divorce.”
Marcegaglia also said she saw little sign of movement by the British government, which did not mention the divorce bill and called instead for more movement from EU governments to clarify what they want.
“I am naturally optimistic otherwise I wouldn’t be a businesswoman but I didn’t really see any signal that they will change,” said the president of BusinessEurope.
Fairbairn said: “With UK-EU trade worth more than €600bn each year, business groups from across Europe used today’s meeting with the prime minister as a welcome opportunity to highlight the mutual importance of seeing real progress before Christmas.
“All business organisations present reiterated the damage a ‘no-deal’ scenario would do to trade,” she added. “While businesses welcomed the prime minister’s Florence speech, we now need to move beyond warm words if jobs, investment and living standards are to be protected.”
Business leaders also said they were concerned that any transition phase needed be longer than UK was proposing.
“One of the main concerns of the business community was to clarify the importance of a transitional phase for the continuity of business relations,” said Joachim Lang, the chief executive of Germany’s BDI. “Businesses’ idea of a transitional period differs from that of the British government. Two years is not enough to create the necessary legal framework.” (The Guardian)
“I’ve lost some excellent and remarkable friends — proper, sound, moderate Conservatives.
“This is a very bad moment for the party. We need to take stock — and our leader needs to take stock as well.” The manifesto U-turn on a social care cap was labelled a “serious blow” to Mrs May’s credibility.
Ms Soubry added: “It did not make her look the strong and stable Prime Minister and leader she had said she was.”
Meanwhile, Tory MP Heidi Allen said of Mrs May’s decision to carry on: “It feels like she’s almost not aware of what has happened in the last 24 hours. You can’t simply just put your head down and say, ‘We get on with it’.”
When asked how long she gave the PM, Ms Allen replied: “I don’t see any more than six months.”
Nigel Evans, another Tory MP, also blamed the social care policy for the disaster and called for a change in Mrs May’s leadership team.
He said: “Theresa May, I’m certain, will want to explain how there is going to be a change in the way we are going to do things. Had some Cabinet ministers seen that policy beforehand, surely that never would have featured in our manifesto.
“Never have I seen a very successful campaign, up until that point, being hijacked by ourselves. From then on, it was an absolute disaster.” Mr Evans said the Tory backbench 1922 Committee would discuss her leadership.
Mrs May angered moderate Tories with her desire to scrap the fox hunting ban. The Mirror revealed a plot to bring back the bloodsport — and the PM confirmed she wanted a free vote on a return to hunting.
Sarah Wollaston, re-elected in Totnes but with her majority cut by almost 5,000, said: “Fox hunting and changes to social care were turning points in how people felt about the PM. Hope we never again have such a negative campaign.”
A top Tory official in the Midlands blasted the election run-in.
Sally Brealey, Broxtowe Conservatives’ deputy chairwoman, said: “We ran an arrogant campaign, more about scaring people than shouting about our achievements. We have learnt nothing from Clinton or Brexit that people vote for positivity. Oh, and don’t get me started on fox hunting.”
A Government minister, who did not want to be named, called for Conservative Party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin to resign, saying the manifesto was “ill-thought out”.
Boris Johnson was the immediate favourite to take over from Theresa May if she is forced to step down.
The Foreign Secretary was poised to run for the top job last June in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum.
But Mr Johnson, 52, had to abandon the bid after fellow Brexiteer Michael Gove betrayed him. He was the 7/4 favourite with Ladbrokes but he is seen as a maverick and Tory MPs distrust him.
Potential rivals include Brexit Secretary David Davis, 68, quoted at 4/1, who will spearhead negotiations with the EU. The ex-SAS reservist was favourite for the role in 2005 but lost to David Cameron.
The UK snap election called by Prime Minister Theresa May has shocked the author of the outing. May against her expectations failed to lead in the parliamentary election where the opposition Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn has chalked up about 316 House of Commons seats, against May’s over 260 slots.
Although the Labour Party has not got the required clear mandate to command a majority in the parliament, the sluggish outing of May’s party had led to calls that she steps down as the PM, a goading she has been unwilling to yield to.
Observers reason that May’s trouncing by the opposition is a signpost to the Brexit outcome of June last year which UK seems not have taken as reality or a road it’s willing to travel before the final severance of ties with EU.
The EU is set to inflict a double humiliation on Theresa May, stripping Britain of its European agencies within weeks, while formally rejecting the prime minister’s calls for early trade talks.
The Observer has learned that EU diplomats agreed their uncompromising position at a crunch meeting on Tuesday, held to set out the union’s strategy in the talks due to start next month.
A beauty contest between member states who want the European banking and medicine agencies, currently located in London, will begin within two weeks, with selection criteria to be unveiled by the president of the European council, Donald Tusk.
The European Banking Authority and the European Medicines Agency employ about 1,000 people, many of them British, and provide a hub for businesses in the UK. It is understood that the EU’s chief negotiator hopes the agencies will know their new locations by June, although the process may take longer. Cities such as Frankfurt, Milan, Amsterdam and Paris are competing to take the agencies, which are regarded as among the EU’s crown jewels.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Britain failed to secure the backing of any of the 27 countries for its case that trade talks should start early in the two years of negotiations allowed by article 50 of the Lisbon treaty. The position will be announced at a Brussels summit on 29 April.
Despite a recent whistlestop tour of EU capitals by the Brexit secretary, David Davis, diplomats concluded unanimously that the European commission was right to block any talks about a future comprehensive trade deal until the UK agrees to settle its divorce bill – which some estimatecould be as high as €60bn – and comes to a settlement on the rights of EU citizens.
May will have hoped that draft European council guidelines, leaked last month, which took a tough line on the negotiations, including a clause ruling out a trade deal within two years, would have been softened during consultation with the member states. However, the lack of any questioning of the European commission’s position on the timeline surprised Brussels veterans, wearily used to displays of EU disunity.
Senior EU sources claimed that Britain’s aggressive approach to the talks, including threats of becoming a low-tax, low-regulation state unless it was given a good deal, had backfired. “However realistic the threats were, or not, they were noticed,” one senior EU source said. “The future prosperity of the single market was challenged. That had an impact – it pushed people together.”
Another senior diplomat said initial sympathy with Britain had fallen away in many capitals, due to the approach of Theresa May’s government. “Of course, we want to protect trade with Britain, but maintaining the single market, keeping trade flowing there, is the priority, and so we will work through [the EU’s chief negotiator] Michel Barnier,” the source said. “Britain used to be pragmatic. That doesn’t seem to be the case any more, and we need to protect our interests.”
It is understood that diplomats representing the right-wing Polish government voiced concerns about the rigid timetable for the talks in the private meeting on Tuesday, suggesting there were grounds for “flexibility”.
Even then the intervention fell far short of backing the UK’s position that there could be parallel negotiations on the terms of withdrawal and the future relationship. A senior EU source said: “No one questioned the phased approach.”
In a further sign of Britain’s isolation, Spain’s right of veto over any future EU-UK deal applying to Gibraltar was not discussed on Tuesday, despite the UK’s anger over the issue, EU sources said. The contentious position is set to be waved into the final EU negotiating position by consensus.
French diplomats instead spent part of the meeting warning member states to help companies on the continent prepare for a scenario in which the UK crashes out of the EU without any deal or even transitional arrangement in place for after the country leaves the bloc in 2019, leading to tariffs and customs checks.
Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, accused the government of wasting an opportunity where ministers should have been building bridges, as it approaches what have been billed as the most important negotiations the UK has ever faced.
He said: “It is deeply concerning that the prime minister is now so isolated from our EU partners. I have emphasised in parliament on a number of occasions that the tone adopted so far by the government is unlikely to get the talks off to a good start.
“The prime minister should have spent the last nine months building alliances across Europe, not pandering to those in her cabinet and her party who want to sever all links with the EU and retreat from our closest allies and most important trading partners.”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “April is set to be a humiliating month for May. Her choice to pursue a hard Brexit is starting to hit with reality and we are starting to see the impact that is going to have on Britain.”
The European commission said earlier this month that talks about a potential trade deal would occur only once “sufficient progress” had been made on Britain’s €60bn divorce bill and the position of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens on the continent.
It is understood diplomats representing the EU27 did discuss a definition of “sufficient progress”, but ultimately left it to the leaders to decide. An EU source said it was hoped that “scoping” talks on a deal, and a transitional arrangement on access to the single market, could start in the autumn.
The EU’s negotiating position detailed in the European council’s so-called draft guidelines will also be redrafted to include mention of the European parliament’s role, in a sign that MEPs are angling to play a greater part in shaping the talks.
Tusk’s team will “fine-tune” the guidelines ahead of a final meeting of diplomats on 24 April, an EU source said. A one-day summit of leaders will take place on 29 April in Brussels to sign off on the document.
LONDON –– British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Sunday flew to New York for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers as his nation looks to build ties with the incoming administration before it withdraws from the European Union.
Trump said he’ll meet Prime Minister Theresa May in the spring after she sent her two most senior aides on a secret trip to the U.S. in mid-December for talks with members of his team. May is seeking to build bridges with Trump after she made critical comments about him before his election.
Johnson was due to meet Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and the president-elect’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Sunday evening before traveling to Washington for talks with congressional leaders. He flew in after May stressed the importance she places on building links with the new White House as Britain seeks to expand trade and security cooperation after it leaves the EU.
“The special relationship we have with the United States is an important relationship in terms of security and stability around the world,” May said Sunday on Sky News. “The conversations I’ve had, I think we’re going to look to build on that relationship for the benefit of both the United States and the U.K. and I think that’s something that’s optimistic and positive for the U.K. for the future.”
May, who has spoken to the incoming president twice by phone, is attempting to recover lost ground after she was outflanked by political rival Nigel Farage. The former Independence Party leader met with Trump within days of his victory in November, and also worked with the campaign before the election. She rejected Trump’s unusual suggestion that Farage, who is close to key members of the president-elect’s team, should be made the British ambassador to the U.S.
In December 2015 May, then Britain’s home secretary, criticized Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S. as “divisive, unhelpful and wrong.” Johnson, who was mayor of London at the time, said Trump was “unfit” to the hold the office of president.
During the Sky News interview, May was asked about a recording of Trump in which he used sexually-explicit language about women. The 2005 videotape surfaced in October. “That’s unacceptable, but in fact Donald Trump himself has said that and has apologized for it,” May said.
“But the relationship that the U.K. has with the U.S. is about something much bigger than just the relationship between the two individuals as president and prime minister,” she said. “It’s a relationship where actually in the U.K. we feel we can say to the U.S. if we disagree with something that they are doing.”
Ibori, second from left with family members and friends in London after his release on Wednesday Photo: Thewillnigeria.com
Despite the completion of his jail term, ex-Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, on Wednesday fought till the last minute to regain freedom.
The British Home Office was said to have opposed Ibori’s release because confiscation hearing had not been concluded.
But the Crown Prosecution lawyer, Sian Davies, did not object to Ibori’s release and return to Nigeria.
The drama which beclouded Ibori’s release was contained in a statement issued by his Media Assistant, Mr. Tony Eluemunor.
The statement said: “At 12: 20 p.m. Wednesday 21 December 2016, Her Honour, Mrs. Justice Juliet May, Queen’s Counsel, dropped her verdict; she ordered the immediate release of Chief James Onanefe Ibori.
“With that Ibori’s lawyers won a major victory against the British Home Office, at the Royal Court of Justice, Queens Court 1, London, by successfully challenging the decision not to release Ibori who was due for freedom on Tuesday, December 20, after serving his sentence.
“In a curious move, the British Home Office, instead of releasing Ibori on December 20, informed him that he would be detained.
“So, in court, Ibori’s lawyers exposed the injustice in the indefinite detention the Home Office had planned for Ibori. They told the judge that there were no grounds in law under which Ibori could be detained and that his detention for one day by the Home office was unlawful.
“Therefore, there was high drama in the British High Court as senior lawyers for the UK’s Home Office failed in their last minute bid to prevent Ibori’s release.
“The apparent decision to block Ibori’s release and detain him appeared to have come from the highest echelons of the UK Government – the Home Secretary who was accused in today’s hearing of acting unlawfully and misusing her powers.
“The Crown Prosecution lawyer, Sian Davies, did not object to Ibori’s release and return to Nigeria, yet at the last minute the Home Office stepped in. There is clear discord between the two arms of the British Government.
“Ibori’s team was led by Ian McDonald QC, the leading QC on immigration.
“The visibly irritated judge could not understand the Home Secretary’s position and at times was critical of the move to detain Ibori any further. Mrs. Justice May rejected the Home Secretary’s requests for conditions to be imposed and ordered Ibori’s immediate release.
“Ivan Krolic, who also attended, explained that Ibori’s confiscation proceedings collapsed in 2013, after the prosecution was unable to establish any theft from Delta State and any benefit for Ibori, from anywhere. A three-week hearing which heard live evidence was abandoned by the prosecutors – Wass QC and Shutzer-Weissman. Both prosecutors have since been dismissed from the case for gross misconduct.
“Krollic further explained that British police officers in the case led by DC McDonald have again been referred to the Independent Public Complaints Commission and now face a thorough investigation into their corrupt activities in this case. The CPS has confirmed officers in the case were corrupt. It has since disclosed substantial material evidencing the graft.
“Ibori and others have long maintained that this prosecution was politically motivated. It was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, DFID, whose senior employee was also the jury foreperson in one of the earlier trials.
“The Ibori case has been plagued with British police corruption, exceptional prosecutorial misconduct and fundamental non-disclosure. A multitude of appeals have now been launched or are in the process of being launched.” (The Nation)