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EU's Juncker: Irish border controls needed in no-deal Brexit

The European Union will insist that border controls be put up along the Irish border if Britain leaves the bloc without a deal and the British government will be responsible for that, a top EU official said.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, told Sky News in an interview broadcast Sunday that the blame for that would rest squarely on Britain. Border controls could in theory go up soon after Oct. 31, Britain's scheduled departure date.

Brussels was "in no way responsible" for the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, Juncker told Sky News.

"We have to make sure that the interests of the European Union and of the internal market will be preserved," he said.

How to maintain a frictionless border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, is the thorniest issue in the Brexit discussions. An invisible border is a key component of 1998's Good Friday peace accord that brought peace in Northern Ireland after decades of sectarian violence.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is insisting that the Irish border provision in the Brexit deal negotiated by his predecessor, Theresa May, be scrapped. The so-called Irish backstop is effectively a guarantee that no border will go up on the island of Ireland by requiring that Britain stick to EU trade rules — even though it won't have any say in the formulation of those rules after Brexit — until the two sides have negotiated a comprehensive trade deal. That would leave Britain locked into the EU's orbit for years.

British lawmakers rejected May's deal three times this year, with many doing so because of their opposition to the backstop.

Johnson is trying to get the EU to agree to replace the backstop with "alternative arrangements" — a mix of technology to replace border checks and a common area for agricultural products and animals covering the whole island of Ireland.

Juncker said he is open to alternative arrangements, but noted that in a no-deal Brexit, an animal entering Northern Ireland could then enter the EU via Ireland if there are no border controls.

"This will not happen," he said. "We have to preserve the health and the safety of our citizens."

Under the rules of the EU's single market, goods and people can move across the 28 countries seamlessly.

Johnson got elected by Conservative Party members in July on the promise that the country will leave the EU on Oct. 31 come what may.

British lawmakers, however, have passed a law that says the prime minister has to request an extension to the Brexit date if Parliament does not back a deal or a no-deal departure by Oct. 19. That law has raised questions on exactly when the country will leave.

Parliament is now suspended until Oct. 14, just over two weeks before the U.K. is due to leave the EU. However, it may be forced to return if the Supreme Court decides this week that Johnson's request broke the law when he suspended Parliament.

The Supreme Court is deciding whether Johnson unlawfully shut Parliament to prevent lawmakers from scrutinizing his plan to leave the EU with or without a divorce deal. Opponents also accuse him of misleading Queen Elizabeth II, whose formal approval was needed to suspend the legislature.

The government says that Johnson acted lawfully and the issue of suspending parliament is one for politicians, not the courts.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government will respect the Supreme Court's ruling on Johnson's move to suspend Parliament.

"Of course, we will respect whatever the legal ruling is from the Supreme Court," he told the BBC on Sunday.

Pressed on whether Northern Ireland could have different EU customs arrangements than the rest of the UK, Raab said: "No, of course, that would be wrong."

___

Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and British politics at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) charged two men with what they call “ the state’s largest seizure of turtles in recent history.” Officers say a tip back in February 2018 started the investigation into what they call a turtle trafficking ring that involved thousands of animals and thousands of dollars.  On October 18 wildlife officers arrested Michael Boesenberg, 39, and Michael Clemons, 23, both of Fort Myers, Fl. and charged them with poaching and selling the turtles on the black market.  Most went to large-scale reptile dealers and illegal distributors, who would then ship them overseas on the black market with a majority of the animals ending up in Asia,  according to a press release. The turtles would fetch between $300 and $10,000 dollars each. Officers estimate one month of turtles would net approximately $60,000. The FWC documented more than 4,000 turtles illegally taken and sold over a 6-month period in the release,  including Florida box turtles, Eastern box turtles, striped mud turtles, Florida mud turtles, chicken turtles, Florida softshell turtles, Gulf Coast spiny softshell turtles, spotted turtles and diamondback terrapins. When investigators arrived with a search warrant they say they found the poachers in possession of hundreds of turtles, along with the skull and shell of a protected Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle.  Biologists evaluated all of the animals for health and species identification and were able to return more than 600 of them back into the wild.
  • Friday was a tough night for residents in Polk County where a EF-2 tornado touched down causing damage to homes and churches and left thousands without power.  But it was especially hard for the Pelham family who told Bay News 9 they had only moments to get into a closet before the tornado struck.  After the storm passed, they discovered their pitbull, Tuffy, and his dog house were gone.  The family told reporters they immediately began searching the area and discovered the dog house 100 yards away. It was severely damaged.  Still, there were no signs of their big dog.  Miraculously, 18-hours after the search began a neighbor found the pooch hiding in a ditch about a half-mile away.  He was scared but otherwise seemed to be OK.  Tuffy’s reunion was shared on twitter by reporter Trevor Pettiford Sunday.  One person commented, “They don’t call him Tuffy for nothin!” App users click here to see the video.   
  • One of Texas' largest cities is reeling after a tornado swept through north Dallas on Sunday night, officials said. >> Read more trending news  According to KDFW-TV, the twister struck about 9 p.m. CDT near Dallas Love Field Airport, then headed east, damaging homes and businesses while initially knocking out power to more than 100,000 people in the region. As of early Monday, no deaths or serious injuries had been reported, the city of Dallas said in a news release; however, emergency officials told The Associated Press that they received reports of people cut by glass shards. Crews also were trying to determine whether any victims were trapped inside a collapsed structure after seven people safely fled the building, the AP reported.  WFAA-TV reported that the storm destroyed Dallas Stars hockey player Tyler Seguin's mansion. Seguin appeared to confirm the news on Twitter but assured fans that he was OK. 'Thanks to everyone reaching out about the news tonight, I am safe,' he tweeted. 'Luckily this is my house for sale and I have moved into a new one. I just left the area and it is an extremely sad sight to see. Prayers to everyone affected by the tornado.' The storm caused 'significant' damage to six homes in nearby Sachse, as well, the AP reported. Four of those houses are now considered 'uninhabitable,' according to the news agency. Read more here. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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  • A toddler is dead and two adults are recovering from injuries after gunfire erupted Sunday in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood, police said. >> Read more trending news  According to KYW-TV, a shooter armed with an AK-47 rifle fired into a Water Street home about 3:30 p.m., striking a 2-year-old girl, her 24-year-old mother and a 33-year-old male contractor, authorities said. The girl, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head, died at the scene, police said.  Emergency responders rushed the woman, who was struck in the head and back, and the man, who suffered a gunshot wound to the stomach, to a nearby hospital, WCAU-TV reported. They are in stable and critical condition, respectively, authorities said. Investigators believe the shooter intentionally targeted the house, then ran from the scene, the news outlets reported. Police said they have not arrested any suspects in connection with the case. Police also are investigating whether the incident is connected to a shooting that occurred minutes earlier on East Clearfield Street, according to KYW. No injuries were reported, authorities told WCAU. Read more here or here.

Washington Insider

  • Accused by Democrats of blatant corruption by planning to host the 2020 G7 Summit at his Doral resort and golf course in Miami, President Donald Trump on Saturday night reversed course and dropped those plans, retreating just two days after his acting White House Chief of Staff announced the plans. 'I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders,' the President wrote on Twitter, defending his choice of venue - which he owns. 'I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO PROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!' the President wrote. “To translate, “Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility” means people who stood up for the Constitution and the rule of law against what some of the most flagrant corruption in American history,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). Critics in Congress and outside ethics groups had denounced the President's decision, arguing that it was a clear cut example of corruption. Democrats had already planned a vote this coming week in the House on a measure to condemn the President for his choice, as some suggested it was such a  clear cut violation of ethics rules - and federal law - that it would automatically become an article of impeachment. “After demanding answers from the White House about the President’s decision to hold the G-7 at his Doral resort, I’m glad he’s reversed course,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI). “But it never should have come to this.” “It's just one mind-blowing, embarrassing fiasco after another,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). 'President Trump’s decision to award the G-7 Conference to his own property was outrageous, corrupt and a constitutional violation,' said Noah Bookbinder, the head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.  'It was stunningly corrupt even for a stunningly corrupt administration,' Bookbinder added. The announcement on Twitter by the President came barely 48 hours after acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was pelted with questions in a rare briefing for reporters, as he shrugged off repeated questions about why the G7 selection wasn't straight and simple corruption. 'Get over it,' Mulvaney said at one point. That news conference also included Mulvaney openly acknowledging that the Trump White House had pressured the Ukraine government to investigate items related to the 2016 elections, in exchange for the release of military aid to Ukraine. Several hours after that briefing, Mulvaney issued a denial of any quid pro quo, as he accused reporters of twisting his words - even though his statements were very clear. “I don’t think he’s enjoying impeachment at all,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) said of the President. “He can also repay American taxpayers the millions collected at Mar-a-Lago, the Trump Hotel, and other Trump properties from DOD, Secret Service, the White House and other fed agencies in violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause,” tweeted Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD).