May asks for time on Brexit
LONDON — With Brexit just 47 days away, the British government asked lawmakers on Sunday to give Prime Minister Theresa May more time to rework her divorce deal with the European Union.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said Parliament would get to pass judgment on Ms. May’s Brexit plan “no later than Feb. 27.”
The promise is a bid to avert a showdown on Thursday, when Parliament is set to debate and vote on next moves in the Brexit process. Some lawmakers want to try to seize control and steer the country toward a softer exit from the bloc.
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but Parliament has rejected Ms. May’s divorce bill, leaving the prime minister to seek changes from the EU. The U.K.’s bid for last-minute changes has exasperated EU leaders, who insist the legally binding withdrawal agreement can’t be changed.
France recalls diplomat
France recalled its ambassador to Italy for “meddling” in its domestic affairs, a surprise move that drags relations between two founding members of the European Union to a more than seven decade low.
The response comes after months of verbal attacks where Italian populist politicians, eager to make gains in European parliamentary elections, have been baiting the French because it plays well with voters — or so the polls shows — and distracts attention away from the recession.
“This is unprecedented since the war,” the Parisbased foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday. “Having disagreements is one thing, but using the relationship for electoral purposes is quite another.”
Pompeo in Central Europe
WASHINGTON — U.S. fears about China and Russia’s growing influence in Central Europe will top Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s agenda as he heads to the region this week, Trump administration officials say.
Mr. Pompeo left Sunday on a five-nation tour of Europe that will begin in Hungary and Slovakia where he will raise those concerns and the importance of promoting democracy and the rule of law to counter Beijing and Moscow’s efforts to pull the countries away from the West and sow divisions in the European Union and NATO.
The centerpiece of the trip will be a conference on the future of the Middle East in Poland on Wednesday and Thursday that is expected to focus on Iran and will also be attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace team of senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and special envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt.
But in Budapest and Bratislava on Monday and Tuesday, Mr. Pompeo will specifically point to issues related to Central Europe’s reliance on Russian energy and the presence of the Chinese high-tech telecom firm Huawei, particularly in Hungary, according to the officials, who were not authorized to publicly discuss Mr. Pompeo’s travel and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The officials said Mr. Pompeo hoped to reverse what they called a decade of U.S. disengagement in Central Europe that created a vacuum that Russia and China have exploited. Over the course of the past 10 years, the officials said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leaders have become much more aggressive in the region and making inroads.