UK PM: Talk of lead­er­ship dur­ing Brexit ‘ir­ri­tat­ing’

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Pope Fran­cis on ex­pelled a Chilean priest un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion in a case in­volv­ing the sex­ual abuse of chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by lo­cal me­dia, amid a grow­ing global abuse scan­dal that has shaken the Ro­man Catholic Church.

The Arch­dio­cese of San­ti­ago said the Pope had de­cided to de­frock the Rev­erend Cris­tian Precht, lo­cal daily El Mer­cu­rio re­ported.

Precht was a for­mer head of the Church’s Vi­cari­ate of Sol­i­dar­ity hu­man rights group that in the 1980s had chal­lenged ex-dic­ta­tor Au­gusto Pinochet to end the prac­tice of tor­ture in Chile, Reuters wrote.

The well-known Chilean re­li­gious leader has since been ac­cused of sex­ual abuse as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions against mem­bers of the Marist Brothers re­li­gious com­mu­nity. Precht has pre­vi­ously de­nied the charges. Pope Fran­cis´ an­nounce­ment comes as Chilean po­lice raid church of­fices through­out the An­dean na­tion look­ing for new cases of sex­ual abuse or ev­i­dence that church of­fi­cials con­cealed abuse from au­thor­i­ties.

The Catholic Church world­wide is reel­ing from crises in­volv­ing sex­ual abuse of mi­nors, deeply dam­ag­ing con­fi­dence in the Church in Chile, but also in the United States, Aus­tralia, and Ire­land where the scan­dal has hit hard­est, and else­where. Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said Sun­day she was “ir­ri­tated” by spec­u­la­tion about a lead­er­ship con­test as she slammed for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary Boris John­son, seen as her most likely chal­lenger.

The cen­ter-right Con­ser­va­tive Party’s leader said she was fo­cused on se­cur­ing a Brexit deal rather than her own fu­ture, in a BBC tele­vi­sion in­ter­view mark­ing the six-month count­down to Bri­tain’s de­par­ture from the Euro­pean Union.

May blasted John­son for us­ing “com­pletely in­ap­pro­pri­ate” lan­guage when he de­scribed her Brexit blueprint as putting Bri­tain in a “sui­cide vest”, AFP re­ported.

Asked about her plans to stay in the job, she said: “I get a lit­tle bit ir­ri­tated but this de­bate is not about my fu­ture – this de­bate is about the fu­ture of the peo­ple of the UK and the fu­ture of the United King­dom.

“That’s what I’m fo­cused on and that’s what we should all be fo­cused on.”

She added it was im­por­tant to en­sure “we get that good deal from the Euro­pean Union which is good for peo­ple in the UK, wher­ever they live in the UK”.

John­son, who quit the cabi­net over May’s pro­pos­als to keep Bri­tain close to the EU on trade, is the book­mak­ers’ fa­vorite to suc­ceed May, ahead of In­te­rior Min­is­ter Sa­jid Javid, eu­roscep­tic back­bench leader Ja­cob Reesmogg, En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Michael Gove and For­eign Sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt.

May’s Con­ser­va­tive mi­nor­ity govern­ment con­tains a size­able bloc of hard­core Brex­i­teers headed by Rees-mogg and would likely need the sup­port of the left-wing main op­po­si­tion Labour Party, or a chunk of their MPS, to get her Brexit pro­pos­als through par­lia­ment.

Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit spokesman, said any EU deal must meet Labour’s key Brexit tests, which in­clude de­liv­er­ing the “ex­act same ben­e­fits” as Bri­tain cur­rently has in­side the sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union, to win their sup­port.

In a let­ter pub­lished by The Sun­day Times, he said they also could not back a loosely worded agree­ment: “A vague po­lit­i­cal dec­la­ra­tion would not meet those tests. Labour will not – and can­not – vote for a blind Brexit.”

Mean­while London Mayor Sadiq Khan added his weight to calls for a sec­ond Brexit ref­er­en­dum on the out­come of Bri­tain’s EU de­par­ture ne­go­ti­a­tions. Writ­ing in The Ob­server news­pa­per, he said Bri­tain faces ei­ther a bad Brexit deal or no deal.

“They are both in­cred­i­bly risky and I don’t be­lieve Theresa May has the man­date to gam­ble so fla­grantly with the Bri­tish econ­omy and peo­ple’s liveli­hoods,” he wrote.

The Labour politi­cian said vot­ers need to be given a new ref­er­en­dum.

“This means a pub­lic vote on any Brexit deal ob­tained by the govern­ment, or a vote on a no-deal Brexit if one is not se­cured, along­side the op­tion of stay­ing in the EU,” he wrote.

AFP

REUTERS

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