Britain’s main opposition Labour Party is set to vote down any deal Prime Minister Theresa May clinches with the European Union and is open to a second referendum with the option of staying in the bloc, its Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said on Tuesday.
With just over six months until Britain leaves the European Union, May has yet to reach a deal with Brussels on the terms of the divorce, and her plan for future trade ties has been rebuffed by both the EU and many lawmakers in her own party.
Labour has listed six tests it would apply to any Brexit deal, including whether it ensured a strong future relationship with the EU and delivered the same benefits Britain has as a current member of the bloc’s single market and customs union.
Starmer said May was on course to fail these tests.
“Everybody recognises the talks are going badly and it looks as though we’re heading for a bad deal or even no deal,” he told BBC TV.
“We, the Labour Party, are going to vote down a bad deal or we’re going to vote down no deal because that is not good for our country nor is it what people voted for.”
In a speech to his party’s annual conference later, Starmer will say the Conservative government does not have a credible plan for Brexit, and that there is no majority in parliament for May’s so-called “Chequers” proposals, which envisage close ties with the EU in the trade of goods.
Labour could play a decisive role in whether any Brexit deal is approved by parliament.
May has a working majority of just 13 in the 650-seat parliament and a former junior minister said this month as many as 80 of her own lawmakers were prepared to vote against a Brexit deal based on the Chequers proposals.
Labour’s conference will vote later on Tuesday on keeping a second Brexit referendum as an option if May fails to get her Brexit plan through parliament, heaping pressure on the struggling prime minister.
Starmer said a meeting of party officials on Sunday had agreed that any second vote would allow for Britons to vote to stay in the EU after all, seeming to contradict the view expressed by the party’s finance spokesman on Monday.
“The question that would be asked was left open because we don’t yet know the circumstance we’ll find ourselves in,” Starmer said.
“The meeting on Sunday was very clear that the question would be wide enough to encompass the option of remain. Nothing is being ruled out, including the option of remain.”
The government’s Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said on Monday that Labour’s “nonsense” about a second referendum would encourage the EU to offer a “lousy” deal and most people in Britain just wanted politicians to get on with Brexit.
“Labour seem determined to take us all back to square one by rejecting a deal out of hand then trying to delay Brexit and re-run the referendum,” junior Brexit minister Robin Walker said in a statement.
“Labour promised to respect the referendum result, but are just playing political games and trying to frustrate it.”
Meanders at Kiboino village along Iten-Kabarnet road. The road is famous for its tens of corners between Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties.[Denish Ochieng, Standard]
Faults.” By the way, suppose Gregory never happened on the scene, what would you have called this fissure? The vast valley, formed when the core of the earth heaved and sighed millions of years ago as a result of volcanic activity, is visible from space and runs from Lebanon in the Middle East to Mozambique in the southern part of Africa. Yet, it is the immense natural beauty and diverse cultures that make a visit to this region worthwhile. Late last year, during the small window that allowed for some travel, I hooked up with Ben, a birding expert for an exploratory tour of the Rift Valley. Now Ben is one man who can tell one bird from another even in his sleep. He will spend copious amounts of time combing every bush for that rare bird few can identify. The adventure starts at the eastern escarpment that drops towards Mai Mahiu. The unwritten rule is to stop and take in the enchanting vistas that stretch beyond the valley floor as far as the eye can see because the most beautiful things in life are free. From here, the conical Mount Longonot looms large, another product of the volcanic activity that created a caldera when part of the volcano collapsed. Since our aim was to make it to Baringo by early afternoon, a quick glimpse of the expanse was enough. We got to Nakuru by midday. The sweltering heat was becoming unbearable, a sharp contrast to the cloudy weather back in Nairobi. “If you think Nakuru is hot, wait till you get to Baringo,” warned a security guard at a mall in Nakuru.
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True to his words, the terrain became harsh past Kabarak. Trees, bereft of leaves dotted the countryside. Lake Bogoria Spa was our next pit stop. In the harsh terrain, the hotel stands out like a diamond in the rough. On a good day, guests are entertained by Tugen dancers just before dinner. It was in this hotel that I got to taste mursik for the first time. I say on a good day because there was little activity at the hotel as the effects of Covid-19 wore on. The hotel is named after the nearby Lake Bogoria, one of the four Rift Valley lakes to the north.
Flamingos at Lake Bogoria National Reserve in Baringo county on January 20, 2021.[Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
Bogoria also marks the divide between the northern lakes of Baringo, Turkana and the ‘Masai’ lakes of Nakuru, Elementaita and Magadi. Lake Bogoria is set at the bottom of the 600-metre Ngendelel Escarpment. Bogoria could not have been set in a more bleak environment. It lacks an outlet, but the high alkalinity in the lake has been a factor in the propagation of the blue-green algae that is at the core of the lake’s global fame. Still, the stench from the algae is enough to make you puke. How, you may wonder, would such seemingly useless substance bring visitors from around the world? You see, Bogoria is known for harbouring thousands of flamingos. Though they do feed on some small fish, the algae is not only their main source of food but their vibrant pink colour as well. The algae contains beta-carotene, a water-based bacteria with a reddish-orange pigment. When the bacteria dissolves in the birds’ fat, it is then deposited in feathers and as the birds grow, their colour slowly shifts to pink. Got it? Thus, a well-fed flamingo will have a deeper shade of pink and will make a formidable mate while a pale one could as well be content in the singles club. In the flamingo world, you are what you eat! Sadly, his beautiful phenomenon is slowly fading away, thanks to the current phenomenon of rising Rift Valley lakes. For the last 10 years, the water in Lake Bogoria has risen to unprecedented levels, diluting the alkalinity and making it difficult for the flamingoes to survive. A similar phenomenon greeted us in Baringo. At Kampi ya Samaki, scores of men washed their motorcycles on the road, now part of the lake.
Some of the buildings submerged at Soi Safari Lodge after Lake Baringo swelled on July 21, 2020.[Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
We had anticipated to lodge at the nearby Soi Safari Lodge, but this one too has been eaten up by the lake. And so are Robert’s Camp and Lake Baringo Country Club, the region’s favourite safari destinations. We were content staying in a nondescript haven on the water’s edge. For some sense of serenity, we took the vertical ascent towards Kabarnet, the town set on a hill, one side overlooking the Iten escarpment. Kabarnet sits on top of Kerio Valley, undoubtedly one of the most scenic locations in Kenya. Three minutes from Kabarnet, we pull over to the side of the road to take in the endless beauty of the valley below, where, as my primary school teacher told me, is the source of fluorspar. If the landscape does not stir any emotions on your part, the Kabarnet-Iten Road surely does. On such terrain, constructing a road vertically presented many challenges. In order to minimise the gradient, the engineers simply made numerous twists and turns, coils upon coils of tarmac meandering all the way to the top. While this was not their intention, the winding road has become part of the region’s tourist attraction. My two days in the geological museum that John Gregory called the Rift Valley revealed some secrets that make the region tick. Here, the remains of animals and plants lie fossilised, awaiting a new discovery.
Office of Attorney General Paul Kihara, through Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto, has filed a notice of Appeal. [File, Standard]
The office of the Attorney General intends to appeal the decision by a five-judge bench that ruled against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process. The bench had on Thursday, May 13, ruled that the BBI process was unconstitutional, null and void. In a document dated May 14, Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto said that the office was dissatisfied with the court’s judgement and that it would appeal the court’s decision. In the document, the government’s legal office said that it will move to the appellate court because the matter was of immense public interest. “Unless this Application for stay of execution of the order is heard urgently, there is a real risk,” the document read in part. The five judges on the bench were Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Chacha Mwita and Teresia Matheka pronounced 17 issues on the BBI ruling. The major issue raised was the President’s role in initiating change through a popular initiative. Jointly, the judges ruled that constitutionally, President Uhuru Kenyatta cannot use popular initiative to vouch for constitutional changes.
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In the ruling, the bench said that the process did not go through public participation as is required by the law. They recommended that Kenyans are provided with printed copies for a clear comprehension of the document. Additionally, the five legal minds also pronounced the 14-member BBI task force mandated to review areas to be amended in the constitution as illegally constituted More to follow
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