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Sturgeon plans EU future for Scotland after Brexit

Tuesday, 28 June 2016 00:00 Published in Commentary

London, United Kingdom — First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowed Sunday to protect Scotland against the “devastating” fallout of Brexit, as new polls found over half of Scots now want independence, which she may put to a second referendum.
Scotland had rejected independence in a 2014 referendum but Sturgeon said the landscape had changed since then due to Thursday’s seismic national vote to leave the European Union (EU).
The United Kingdom — as it was when Scotland voted to stay in it — “does not exist any more,” she said.
Britain as a whole voted by 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the EU but Scotland voted strongly for Britain to remain — by 62 percent to 38 percent.
After the result became clear, Sturgeon said that a new independence vote within two years was now “highly likely” and that Scotland was seeking “immediate discussions” with European leaders.
“What’s going to happen with the UK is that there are going to be deeply damaging and painful consequences... I want to try and protect Scotland from that,” Sturgeon told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
Scots rejected independence two years ago by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent, but surveys taken after Thursday’s vote showed most would now back going it alone.
A Panelbase survey for the Sunday Times found 52 percent of respondents wanted to break with the rest of Britain, while 48 percent were opposed.
In another poll for Scotland’s Sunday Post by research firm Scotpulse, 59 percent said they would vote for independence.
In a round of broadcast interviews, Sturgeon also said it was possible that the Scottish parliament may have to give its consent to laws to extricate Britain from the EU.
Asked whether she would consider asking Scottish lawmakers not to give that consent, she replied: “Of course.”
However, Adam Tomkins, an opposition Scottish lawmaker and professor of public law at Glasgow University, said the government did not have the right to bloc a Brexit.
“Holyrood has the power to show or to withhold its consent,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to the seat of government in Edinburgh.
“But withholding consent is not the same as blocking.”
Sturgeon leads the pro-independence Scottish National Party, which has 63 out of 129 seats in the devolved parliament, as well as 54 out of 650 seats in Britain’s House of Commons lower house of parliament.
Scotland staying’ in EU
Setting out Scotland’s negotiating position with Brussels, Sturgeon said that the country would not need to rejoin the EU as a new member state because it would never leave.
“Our argument is that we don’t want to leave. It’s not that we want to leave and get back in,” she said.
She also cautioned any future British prime minister against vetoing a new Scottish independence vote.
“I think people in Scotland would find that completely unacceptable,” she said.
Andrew Scott, a professor of European Union studies at the University of Edinburgh, said Scotland could vote for independence before Britain’s departure is finalized.
It could then define itself as a “successor state” and effectively inherit Britain’s EU membership, including the budget rebate, he argued.
A second option would be for an independent Scotland to leave the EU and then re-apply while in the meantime joining the European Economic Area, he said.
EU officials have cautioned in recent days that Scotland may have to apply like other new member states.
‘I feel more European’
On the streets of Edinburgh, many people backed independence.
Chris Dougray, a financial advisor, said he was concerned about the impact on investment in Scotland if it is forced out of the European Union.
“If it meant that we stay in the European Union, I would vote for independence, yes,” he said.
Zoe Cuthbert, a 23-year-old student of international law, said: “I feel more European than I do British.
“We’ve clearly made our voice heard that we look more to Europe than we do to the rest of the UK.” 

Paris, France — Britain’s bestselling novelist and two of its rock idols have mourned the country’s “disastrous” vote to leave the European Union (EU), claiming it will lead to the break up of the country.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, an outspoken campaigner to remain in Europe, tweeted “I don’t think I’ve ever wanted magic more” as it became clear early Friday that the Leave camp had won.
She later predicted that the United Kingdom would break up because of the vote. “Scotland will seek independence now. (Prime Minister David) Cameron’s legacy will be breaking up two unions.”
Former Blur singer Damon Albarn wore a black armband as he played at the Glastonbury festival Saturday, telling tens of thousands of fans that “democracy has failed us because it was ill-formed.”
Sixties legend Marianne Faithfull said she hoped “the situation can be saved and that parliament can still do something.
“It is a disaster, “ she told AFP. “I feel sick and very sad. We are back to where it used to be, the right-wing racist Little England, those dreadful people, they’ve always been there.”
And fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld blamed rural voters “from deep in the countryside” for pushing Britain out. “The big cities didn’t want it (Brexit) at all.
“I don’t think it is a good idea. The analysis of the vote shows that it is a bad decision,” the 82-year-old German-born Chanel creator told AFP.
‘Lies and racism’
The Sun newspaper — which called for its readers to vote to quit Europe — called Albarn and Rowling’s comments “arrogant.”
But Johnny Marr, the guitarist of The Smiths, took up a similar line on Twitter as a petition to parliament calling for a new referendum gathered more than two million names. “No one ever said that the majority know what they’re doing,” the rock star said.
And he lambasted Cameron again in another post Saturday for his decision to quit after losing the vote.
“David Cameron took the country to an unnecessary and disastrous referendum that he couldn’t handle, then bailed. Nice.”
Peter Mayle, the novelist who for millions of Britons epitomized the “European dream” of living in the sun with his “Year in Provence” novels set in southern France, told AFP that the UK’s exit was a “disaster for them and for Europe.
“I am Scottish and I am certain there will be another referendum on the independence of Scotland and this time the result will be positive.
“I am sad for the future of my English friends who were taken in by the lies and racism of the British right-wing press,” said the 69-year-old writer, who took French nationality in April as the vote approached.
Comic writer Stephen Clarke, whose bestselling “A Year in the Merde,” took a more satirical spin on Mayle’s idyllic evocations of French life, was just as scathing about the role British media played in stoking euroskepticism there.
“For years newspapers have been twisting the truth to say all the EU does is pass crazy rules about straight cucumbers or banning bagpipes,” he said.
Already poorer
His new comic novel “Merde in Europe” set inside the EU in Brussels was an attempt “separate the truth from the myths” after decades of distortion.
“Like most British people I know nothing about what the EU actually did,” the Paris-based writer told AFP.
“But the whole campaign was depressing. The Remain side was negative and didn’t say what Europe really does and the Leave campaign was often xenophobic, lying and racist I’m afraid.
“I feel really sorry for Britain’s young people. They have had their European future taken from them by old people harried out to vote by newspapers which write nothing but rubbish about Europe.”
Northern Irish writer Robert McLiam Wilson of “Eureka Street” fame said the vote to leave was “catastrophically stupid.”
“My first thought when I woke up was that I was now poorer than the night before. The pound took a dive and we don’t know where it is going to go.”
It also puts Northern Ireland in an “incredibly complicated position,” with its place in the UK in peril, he said.
“I was horrified to find myself agreeing with (the Irish republicans of) Sinn Fein for the first time in my life,” the writer told AFP.
“This is such a deal breaker. They are right, Britain no longer has a mandate (to rule Northern Ireland, which voted to remain in the EU). Ulster Protestants are nothing if not incredibly pragmatic, and if the economic impact is incredibly negative how long before they will rethink their opposition to a united Ireland?”
He laid much of the blame on Remain’s defeat on its campaign. “If you say to people on a shitty housing estates on low pay or without a job to vote for the status quo, it is more than an insult, you are daring them to vote against you,” McLiam Wilson argued. 

 

India’s Chand qualifies for Rio after gender ruling

Monday, 27 June 2016 00:00 Published in Sports

NEW DELHI, India — Indian sprinter Dutee Chand has qualified for the women's 100 meters at the Rio Olympics less than a year after she was cleared to race following a landmark ruling on so-called gender tests.
The 20-year-old said she was now determined to work hard to bring home an elusive medal for India in August after what she described as a "tough year."
Chand was diagnosed with hyperandrogenism — a condition that produces high testosterone levels — that meant she fell foul of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules on gender.
But the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) suspended the controversial regulation in 2015 for two years, allowing Chand to compete again.
Chand, who missed the Commonwealth and Asian Games due to the ban, had challenged the IAAF rule, which she said did not take into account athletes who were "born this way."
Chand clocked 11.30 seconds in the women's 100m heats at a meet in Kazakhstan on Saturday, breaking her own national record and beating the Olympic qualifying mark of 11.32 seconds.
She went on to finish second in the final in 11.24 seconds.
"I am really happy to have qualified for the Olympics. It has been a tough year for me. My hard work and that of my coach has paid off," Chand was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
"I will continue to work hard and hope to bring a medal for the country," added Chand, one of seven children born to weavers in rural India.
Chand becomes only the second Indian woman ever to qualify for the prestigious 100m event after the country's former sprint star PT Usha made the cut at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
The IAAF introduced the gender-testing rule after a controversy over the treatment of South African runner Caster Semenya, who also had excessive testosterone levels, but whose ban was lifted following an investigation.
Semenya, who won a silver medal at the London Olympics, has also qualified for Rio.              
The CAS last year asked the IAAF to provide scientific evidence that enhanced testosterone levels led to improved performances in hyperandrogenic athletes.
Critics say gender testing is arbitrary and psychologically damaging.             

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