BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said that over the years they have removed his access to the internet and accused him of engaging in political activities – which is not allowed when claiming asylum.
He said: “Precisely what has happened in the embassy is not clear – there has been claim and counter claim.”
Mr Assange will initially face UK legal proceedings but could be extradited to the US over the Wikileaks revelations, he added.
UK foreign minister Sir Alan Duncan said the arrest followed “extensive dialogue between our two countries”.
Timeline: Julian Assange saga
August 2010 – The Swedish Prosecutor’s Office first issues an arrest warrant for Mr Assange. It says there are two separate allegations – one of rape and one of molestation. Mr Assange says the claims are “without basis”
December 2010 – Mr Assange is arrested in London and bailed at the second attempt
May 2012 – The UK’s Supreme Court rules he should be extradited to Sweden to face questioning over the allegations
June 2012 – Mr Assange enters the Ecuadorean embassy in London
August 2012 – Ecuador grants asylum to Mr Assange, saying there are fears his human rights might be violated if he is extradited
August 2015 – Swedish prosecutors drop their investigation into two allegations – one of sexual molestation and one of unlawful coercion because they have run out of time to question him. But he still faces the more serious accusation of rape.
October 2015 – Metropolitan Police announces that officers will no longer be stationed outside the Ecuadorean embassy
February 2016 – A UN panel rules that Mr Assange has been “arbitrarily detained” by UK and Swedish authorities since 2010
May 2017 – Sweden’s director of public prosecutions announces that the rape investigation into Mr Assange is being dropped
July 2018 – The UK and Ecuador confirm they are holding ongoing talks over the fate of Mr Assange
October 2018 – Mr Assange is given a set of house rules at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. He then launches legal action against the government of Ecuador
December 2018 – Mr Assange’s lawyer rejects an agreement announced by Ecuador’s president to see him leave the Ecuadorean embassy
February 2019 – Australia grants Mr Assange a new passport amid fears Ecuador may bring his asylum to an end
April 2019 – The Metropolitan Police arrests him for “failing to surrender to the court” over a warrant issued in 2012
Theresa May has been granted another 6 months to sort out Brexit.
Several options, including her own resignation, remain firmly on the table.
The EU has told Britain not to waste time in coming up with a compromise solution.
WATCH NOWVIDEO01:34EU leaders have agreed to a ‘flexible’ Brexit extension
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has returned from Brussels with a Brexit extension that pushes the next deadline out to October 31.
May has seen her preferred withdrawal from Europe rejected three times already but now has another six-and-a-half months to try to get some form of deal over the line.
Whether her government calls a snap general election, works out a softer Brexit or doesn’t even leave the European Union are all still on the table. The possibility of Britain leaving the EU with no deal whatsoever also remains very much alive.
After a long night in Brussels, CNBC rounds up the Brexit predictions from some of the biggest banks in the world.
UBS — Heading for elections
Analysts at Swiss bank UBS concluded that the most likely next step is for May to try to push through her previously rejected withdrawal agreement with opposition party support. UBS sees this plan as doomed to fail and May will be forced to resign, with a subsequent general election “likely.”
In a separate email to CNBC, UBS’s Head of U.K. Rates Strategy John Wraith said the extension will ensure economic headwinds remain for Britain, as businesses and consumers won’t feel freed to press on with investments or big-ticket purchases.
Commerzbank — No bounce for the pound
The German bank believes that Britain is now obliged to participate in the next round of EU parliamentary elections which will only increase division in the U.K. The bank says markets have largely ignored Brexit “noise” but may now start to get nervous if the U.K.’s political stability looks compromised. It assigns a low probability to a cancellation of Brexit but is almost equally uncertain of a second referendum or general election. It sees “limited scope” for any sustainable rebound in either the economy or the pound.
Societe Generale – Markets don’t know what to do
The French bank sees the extension as offering practically no change to the Brexit conundrum. Kit Juckes, who acts a macro strategist for the bank, said in a note Thursday that although there is little evidence that “pre-departure uncertainty” is hurting the U.K. economy, further vagueness over the future won’t help.
Juckes adds that markets are “staring, wide-eyed and mouth open” but have little interest in the Brexit trade. He notes that U.K. economic data isn’t bad and offers a call that sterling is likely to go higher rather than lower.
Citi – Watch the Bank of England
Christian Schulz at Citi said Thursday that a snap U.K. general election remains the logical step to restart the process. He says the Labour party is unlikely to dig May out of her hole and options for the prime minister continue to narrow. For the U.K. economy, Citi sees successive short extensions as “the worst case for business confidence and investment on both sides of the Channel.” The bank says its base case that the Bank of England will raise rates in August looks to have been weakened but the central bank’s meeting next month should offer more clues.
Rabobank — EU keen to avoid blame
The U.K. has a break clause in the extension that allows it to leave should a withdrawal agreement gain support in both Westminster and Brussels. It also requires Britain to avoid disrupting the day-to-day activities of the European Union. Rabobank labels this as another example of the “pragmatic approach” that EU heads of state have taken around Brexit deadlines. The bank says it suggests that Brussels will do all it can to prevent an impression that it’s forcing the U.K. to leave without a deal.
Deutsche Bank — One more try for May
May has said she will still try to avoid U.K. participation in the European elections. This will mean agreeing a deal by May 22. Jim Reid at Deutsche Bank says May can possibly have another tilt at gaining U.K. lawmaker support “sometime in the next 36 hours.”
Reid says whatever the outcome the odds of an early election continue to rise with the chances of a cross-party agreement looking slim. Deutsche’s analyst also notes May’s previous promise to hold binding parliamentary votes on various Brexit options and expects that to dominate headlines in the coming days.
(ECO) Tusk quer evitar uma saída sem acordo devido aos riscos para cidadãos e empresas. Os 27 inclinam-se para conceder uma extensão da data de saída e acordo pode sair da Cimeira desta quarta-feira.
O presidente do Conselho Europeu Donald Tusk propõe um adiamento de até um ano do Brexit por forma a evitar uma saída brusca do Reino Unido da União Europeia. Os 27 inclinam-se para conceder uma extensão da data de saída, mas deverão ainda chegar a um acordo na cimeira desta quarta-feira, em Bruxelas, sobre o prazo e as condições. Na carta que convoca os líderes europeus para a cimeira, o presidente do Conselho Europeu sublinha a necessidade de evitar um Brexit sem acordo devido aos riscos desse cenário para os cidadãos e as empresas.
“A nossa experiência até agora, bem como as profundas divisões na Câmara dos Comuns, dão-nos poucas razões para acreditar que o processo de ratificação pode estar terminado em finais de junho”, diz Tusk na carta aos líderes. O presidente do Conselho alerta para o risco de os 27 terem que conceder “uma série de sucessivas extensões curtas”, organizando cimeiras atrás de cimeiras com novas datas para o Brexit, aumentando a incerteza e fazendo pairar o espetro de uma saída desordenada.
Por isso, Tusk considera que deve ser concedida uma extensão flexível que durará o tempo necessário, mas não superior a um ano, até o Reino Unido aprovar o Acordo de Saída ou redefinir a sua estratégia para o Brexit.
Os 27 deverão inclinar-se para um novo adiamento sendo, no entanto, necessário definir o tipo de extensão e as condições. Várias capitais, com Paris à cabeça querem clarificar, e até apertar, essas condições. Ainda ontem, a secretária de Estado dos Assuntos Europeus francesa sublinhou que uma extensão não está adquirida nem é automática e que é importante existir um plano credível por parte de Londres que trace uma solução para o atual impasse.
A questão das condições do adiamento prende-se com o facto de uma saída demorada do Reino Unido poder afetar o funcionamento da União Europeia num momento em que os 27 enfrentam decisões cruciais. Durante os próximos 12 meses, a UE inicia um ciclo político com eleições europeias entre 23 e 26 de maio e a constituição de um novo executivo comunitário até ao final do ano. Para além disso, os Estados-membros deverão tomar uma série de medidas-chave para o futuro da UE, como a aprovação do orçamento plurianual. Várias vozes levantam a questão do papel em todos estes dossiês de um país que está de saída mas que, enquanto permanecer membro do bloco comunitário, tem os mesmos direitos e obrigações dos restantes 27.
Donald Tusk propõe algumas condições a cumprir durante o período de extensão flexível : o Acordo de Saída não será renegociado e o Reino Unido deve manter uma postura de “cooperação sincera” correspondente ao seu estatuto de país que está de saída.
É com estas interrogações em cima da mesa que decorre ao final da tarde desta quarta-feira a cimeira de líderes. Qualquer que seja o caminho, o presidente do Conselho pede que o debate não seja influenciado por “emoções negativas” e que nenhuma das partes se “sinta humilhada”.
As Britain looks to extend its stay in the European Union, it seems British passports haven’t followed the same path.
New UK passports have been issued without the words ‘European Union’ on the front cover.
One person who received the passport said she was “truly appalled” by the removal of the EU from the passport.
“I was just surprised – we’re still members of the EU. I was surprised they’ve made the change when we haven’t left, and it’s a tangible mark of something which I believe to be completely futile,” Susan Hindle Barone told the UK’s Press Association.
“What do we gain by leaving? There’s certainly a whole lot we lose.”
How British passports will look like post-Brexit has been a sticking point for those who supported to remain in the EU and a rallying call for some supporters of the Leave campaign, after a decision by the UK government in 2017 to change passports from burgundy to dark blue.
Former UKIP leader and ardent Brexit supporter Nigel Farage has previously described the change as his idea of “Brexmas”.
The UK Home Office said that in order to use the “best value to the taxpater, passports that include the words “European Union” will continue to be issued for a short period”.
Britain was expected to leave the EU on the 29 March.
Prime Minister Theresa May has since requested two extensions, one granted and the latest a request by May on Friday for Article 50 to be extended up to June 30.
The UK is currently scheduled to leave on April 12, after a first extension was already granted.
Prime Minister Theresa May has asked the European Union to delay Brexit until June 30, setting up a battle with the bloc ahead of a key summit next week.
May wants an extension to June 30 and aims to avoid holding European elections next month, which would be politically toxic at home. But the EU’s view is that if there is an extension, it should be longer, given the deadlock in the U.K. France was quick to say it was “premature” to talk of an extension.
The pound rose as much as 0.4 percent immediately after the letter was published, before paring gains.
May cited talks with opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn aimed at breaking the Brexit impasse as a reason for further delay in her letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk. It’s the same length delay she asked for last month, which the bloc rejected.
“It is frustrating that we have not yet brought this process to a successful and orderly conclusion,” May wrote. “The U.K. government remains strongly committed to doing so.”
With her options dwindling, May is desperately seeking to get an agreement through Parliament, which has rejected it three times.
Unable to convince her allies to back her own deal, she’s turned to Corbyn for help. Talks are yet to show much sign of progress, even as May is said to be willing to discuss proposals she’s long rejected, including a second referendum.
In her letter, May said the government would prepare for European parliament elections — due to be held between May 23 and May 26 — in case Parliament hasn’t ratified the Brexit divorce deal in time, though she reiterated her reluctance for the U.K. to take part.
May said she’s trying to agree a timetable for legislation with the Labour Party which will allow it to pass through Parliament in time for the elections to be canceled.
“It is in the interests of neither the United Kingdom as a departing Member State, nor the European Union as a whole, that the United Kingdom holds elections to the European Parliament,” May wrote.
May said her discussions with the opposition are focused on the future relationship with the EU, and not on reopening the Withdrawal agreement she negotiated with the bloc. That chimes with the EU position that it can rewrite its declaration on future ties but won’t reopen the divorce deal.
“If a consensus is going to be found, compromise will be needed on all sides, in the national interest,” she wrote.
Tusk favors offering the U.K. a one-year extension, though some governments opposed such a long delay, officials said. His proposal would would include an escape clause to allow the U.K. to leave the EU early when the deal is approved.
The EU’s remaining 27 leaders, who meet May in Brussels for a summit on Wednesday, have to agree on any offer unanimously and it’ll be up to them to forge a common position. France is leading a small group of countries opposing a long extension, but officials said they don’t expect any leader to veto a delay outright. France said the year-long delay proposal was a “clumsy trial balloon.”
The EU has previously said any long extension would be conditional on a “clear plan” for the way forward, or a political “event” such as another referendum or general election. But May’s efforts to form a cross-party position with Corbyn, and pledge to hold votes in Parliament on the desired outcome, will probably be enough.
Without an agreement at the EU summit, the U.K. would leave the bloc on April 12 if Parliament doesn’t approve the deal before then — crashing out into legal limbo that would snarl trade and freeze markets. That’s a scenario Parliament is working to prevent, and May has said she won’t lead the country out of the bloc without a deal unless lawmakers consent to it.
While any extension would be welcomed by most businesses, which are desperate to avoid a no-deal outcome, a delay until June 30 would still have an economic cost. The risk of opting for a relatively short extension is that companies and consumers remained trapped by uncertainty, and continue to defer spending and investment decisions until they get more clarity. Meanwhile, Bank of England policy makers would also be forced to continue their current holding pattern.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told MPs he would hope the Lords would “scrutinise this bill passed in haste with its constitutional flaws”.
He added that there was “no guarantee” that the UK will not take part in the European elections in May and to participate would be a “betrayal” and “inflict untold damage”.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Philip Hammond has suggested that he expects Brussels to insist on a lengthy delay to Brexit. He also described a public vote to approve any final deal as “a perfectly credible proposition”.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Radio 4 Today he was “very strongly against” a public vote and he would not want to see a long extension to the Brexit process.
Ms Cooper’s attempts to prevent a no-deal departure from the EU passed by 313 votes to 312.
The draft legislation would force the prime minister to ask the EU for an extension to the Article 50 process beyond 12 April – and would give Parliament the power to decide the length of this delay to be requested.
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Tory Brexiteers expressed frustration at the unusual process of a backbench bill clearing all stages in the Commons in a matter of hours, rather than months.
Mark Francois said: “It’s difficult to argue that you’ve had an extremely considered debate when you’ve rammed the bill through the House of Commons in barely four hours. That is not a considered debate, that is a constitutional outrage.”
The government’s attempt to limit the bill’s powers resulted in a 180-vote defeat – the second biggest defeat for a government in modern times.
Responding to the Commons vote, the government said the bill would place a “severe constraint” on its ability to negotiate an extension to the Brexit deadline before 12 April, the date the UK is due to exit.
‘Useful but inconclusive’
It comes as talks between government negotiators and Labour continue throughout Thursday after Mrs May and Mr Corbyn agreed a “programme of work”.
A No 10 spokesman said on Wednesday that both parties showed “flexibility” and “a commitment to bring the… uncertainty to a close”.
Mr Corbyn said the meeting was “useful, but inconclusive”, adding there had not been “as much change as [he] had expected” in the PM’s position.
The prime minister wants to agree a policy with the Labour leader for MPs to vote on before 10 April – when the EU will hold an emergency summit on Brexit.
But if they cannot reach a consensus, she has pledged to allow MPs to vote on a number of options, including the withdrawal agreement she has negotiated with the EU, which has already been rejected three times by MPs.
In either event, Mrs May said she would ask the EU for a further short extension to Brexit in the hope of getting an agreement passed by Parliament before 22 May, so that the UK does not have to take part in European elections.
The cross-party talks have provoked strong criticism from MPs in both parties, with two ministers resigning on Wednesday.
Chris Heaton-Harris quit on Wednesday afternoon, claiming his job at the Department for Exiting the European Union had become “irrelevant” if the government is not prepared to leave without a deal.
Wales Minister Nigel Adams also resigned, saying the government was at risk of failing to deliver “the Brexit people voted for”.
Reports in papers including the Sun suggest as many as 15 more – including several cabinet ministers – could follow if Mrs May strayed too far from previous commitments.
Among her “red lines” was leaving the EU’s customs union, which allows goods to move between member states without being subject to tariffs. It also imposes the same tariffs on goods from outside countries.
In an interview on ITV’s Peston programme, Mr Hammond said that – while the Conservative manifesto had pledged to leave the EU customs union – “some kind of customs arrangement” was always going to be part of the future structure.
Critics say remaining part of a European customs union would stop the UK negotiating its own trade agreements with the rest of the world.
Mr Corbyn is coming under pressure from senior colleagues in his party to make a further referendum a condition of signing up to any agreement.
Demanding the shadow cabinet hold a vote on the issue, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said not backing a confirmatory vote would be a “breach” of the policy agreed by party members at its last conference.
The party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, told the Peston programme that Labour members would “find it unforgiveable” for “us to sign off on Theresa May’s deal without a concession that involves the people”.
However, party chairman Ian Lavery is reported to have warned against the idea, arguing that it could split the party.
European leaders will continue deciding how to respond to Brexit, with Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dublin later.
The UK has until 12 April to propose a plan to the EU – which must be accepted by the bloc – or it will leave without a deal on that date.
After her invitation to meet opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, the UK prime minister says the aim is to deliver on leaving the EU with a deal, but she insists the Labour party should not be in government.
The FT’s UK political commentator Robert Shrimsley recounts the mistakes that have led to the prime minister’s inevitable departure. Mrs May signalled the end to her premiership on a dramatic night in the Commons this week.
NCSC report casts doubt over Chinese firm’s future involvement in telecoms
The government-led watchdog set up to vet Huawei products has given a damning report on the cyber security risks posed by the Chinese company’s involvement in the British telecommunications industry.
The annual report published by the Huawei oversight board, which is chaired by the head of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre, said it has found further “significant technical issues in Huawei’s engineering processes leading to new risks in the UK telecommunications networks”.
The 46-page report did not call for a ban on Huawei’s equipment being used in the roll-out of next-generation 5G networks, which critics say could be exploited to allow Beijing to spy on communications in the UK. Huawei denies the accusations.
The watchdog said Huawei had made “no material progress” in addressing security flaws identified in last year’s report and raised serious doubts about the Chinese company’s ability to deliver a $2bn programme to address concerns previously raised by the UK watchdog.
“At present, the oversight board has not yet seen anything to give it confidence in Huawei’s capacity to successfully complete the elements of its transformation programme that it has proposed as a means of addressing these underlying defects,” the report said. “[Our] work has continued to identify concerning issues in Huawei’s approach to software development bringing significantly increased risk to UK operators.”
The report casts doubt on whether UK operators should be involved with Huawei over the future roll-out of telecommunications networks.
“It will be difficult to appropriately risk-manage future products in the context of UK deployments, until the underlying defects in Huawei’s software engineering and cyber security processes are remediated,” the report said.
The US has put increasing pressure on the UK and other countries to stop Huawei from being involved in the roll-out of future 5G networks. Countries including New Zealand and Australia have stopped Huawei from being involved, citing national security concerns.
The report said that last year “several hundred vulnerabilities and issues” were reported to UK operators to inform the risk management of their networks. The report said the National Cyber Security Centre does not believe the defects identified in Huawei equipment “are the result of Chinese state interference”.
An NCSC spokesman said: “Huawei’s presence in the UK is subject to detailed, formal oversight. This report illustrates above all the need for improved cyber security in the UK telecoms networks.”
The annual report does not suggest the UK networks are more vulnerable than in 2017.
“The report details some concerns about Huawei’s software engineering capabilities,” a spokesman for Huawei said. “We understand these concerns and take them very seriously. The issues identified in the report provide vital input for the ongoing transformation of our software engineering capabilities.”
A final decision on Huawei’s involvement in the roll-out of the UK’s 5G networks is likely to be part of a government review of the telecoms market and infrastructure, which is due to be published in coming weeks.
Boris Johnson, former British foreign minister and prominent eurosceptic, will now back Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal after she promised to quit if it passes, the deputy political editor of The Times said on Wednesday.
“Boris Johnson to switch sides and back the deal, source says. Promise of new leader to succeed May got him over the line,” Sam Coates said in a tweet.
LAST NIGHT’S VOTE: The government was defeated by a majority of 27 (329 vs. 302) on the Letwin amendment which seeks to change the rules of parliament on March 27 in order to provide time for lawmakers to debate and hold indicative votes. It is worth noting that three junior ministers resigned in order to vote in favour of the Letwin amendment. Furthermore, MPs voted (311 vs. 314) against the Beckett amendment (F) which called on the government to seek parliament approval on a no-deal if an agreement is not reached 1 week before the Brexit date, while the Labour amendment (D) to provide parliamentary time for lawmakers to find a majority for a different approach on Brexit was not moved. Following last night’s developments, Goldman Sachs analysts maintained their Brexit probabilities (PM May deal ratification 50%, no-deal Brexit 15% and no Brexit 35%) whilst stating that they are skeptical that this week’s votes will prove conclusive.
TODAY’S SCHEDULE (GMT):
Morning – Emergency Cabinet meeting
18:00 – ERG meeting
WHAT’S NEXT: In light of the Letwin amendment passing, on Wednesday 27th March, MPs will vote on a series of options to establish what could command a majority in parliament. The result of any such indicative votes would not be binding on the government as it goes against the Tory manifesto. There is no official list of options, although one has been generated by the Commons select committee for exiting the EU.
1. PM MAY’S DEAL: The deal has been rejected twice already by parliament but remains the only deal the EU can quickly ratify and therefore remains an option. If voted on, it will attract support from May loyalists, but DUP and ERG remain opposed.
2. NO DEAL BREXIT: This would lead to the UK leaving the EU on the new revised date of April 12th on WTO terms. HoC have twice voted against this option, albeit by only four votes last time.
3. ELIMINATING A BACKSTOP: This, in theory would mean re-writing the Withdrawal Agreement, something the EU repeatedly dismissed. A variant would be to promote “alternative arrangements” i.e., technology to monitor the flow of good that could replace the backstop. The EU have previously agreed to examine this, although implementation could take years.
4. CANADA-STYLE DEAL: A popular idea with hardcore Brexiteers, this would focus on the future trade deal with the EU rather than the Withdrawal Agreement. In theory, the UK would accept no continuing regulatory alignment with the EU, although is unclear how far the EU is willing to negotiate this. However, this would not solve the impasse regarding the Northern Irish border, nor has there been signs of many Labour are willing to support this.
5. NORWAY-PLUS DEAL: This soft-Brexit alternative would keep the UK in the single market by remaining in the European Economic Area (EEA) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Unlike EFTA, the deal would also keep the UK in the customs union (hence the plus). The deal has been promoted by a group of Tory backbenchers, Labour leader Corbyn has also shown some interest and some believe it would be the most popular option given a free vote. The Sun reported last night that over 100 are ready to back this deal after PM May’s deal is killed off.
6. LABOUR DEAL: This would mean the UK remains in a customs union with the EU and remain close to the single market. European Council President Tusk has previously deemed this as “promising”, although the plan was rejected by parliament. The Labour deal is unlikely to attract support of the Conservatives.
7. SECOND REFERENDUM: A replay of the 2016 referendum would be a separate option although nobody in parliament is seriously calling for that. However, a referendum could be attached to one of the options above. When a second referendum was put on PM May’s deal before the HoC this month, only 85 MPs voted for it after labour ordered its MPs to abstain.
The Times political editor Tim Shipman said, “Cabinet ministers have turned on May in a spectacular fashion,” and are pressuring her to leave, though she has still not made a firm decision to do so. He added that May’s husband was one of the few urging her to try and stay on as prime minister.
Second vote: UK lawmakers voted this week to postpone the deadline for a deal by a few weeks after failing to reach a consensus. The new deadline for a deal is April 12, to avoid having Britain field candidates for the upcoming EU elections in May.