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EU leaders have approved the UK’s withdrawal agreement from the European Union (Brexit), President of the European Council Donald Tusk has announced.

The 27 leaders gave Brexit their backing after less than an hour’s discussion in Brussels.

On November 24, Donald Tusk signaled that the deal would be approved after Spain withdrew last-minute concerns over Gibraltar.

The Brexit deal needs to be approved by the UK Parliament, with many lawmakers opposed.

Donald Tusk tweeted: “EU27 has endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future EU-UK relations.”

How Will Global Foreign Exchange Markets React To Brexit?

Brexit Referendum Results: UK Votes to Leave European Union

Brexit: EU Explains Leaving Procedure

The Brexit deal follows more than 18 months of negotiations between the two sides, which began when the UK triggered Article 50 in the wake of the 2016 referendum.

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

The UK Parliament is expected to vote on the deal in early December but its approval is by no means guaranteed, with Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, the DUP and many Conservatives lawmakers set to vote against.

UK’s PM Theresa May has appealed to the public to get behind the agreement, arguing it is the best deal she could have struck and honors the result of the Brexit referendum.

The pound has fallen sharply after the UK’s general elections resulted in a hung parliament.

The currency’s value had dropped overnight, and as trading began in London it slipped further, standing 2.3% lower at just below $1.27, with markets worried about heightened political uncertainty.

Against the euro, the pound was down 2% at 1.1344.

However, UK’s shares opened higher with the benchmark FTSE 100 index up 1.3% at 7,544.78 points.

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A fall in the value of the pound tends to boost the FTSE 100 as the majority of companies in the index have significant operations overseas. A weaker pound means profits earned abroad are worth more when converted back into sterling.

Traders had been expecting a clear victory for PM Theresa May’s Conservative Party, but are now concerned about political uncertainty.

The projection is that the Conservatives will be the largest party with 318 seats – eight short of a majority.

While the pound’s move is significant, it is far less striking than that seen in the aftermath of the Brexit vote in June 2016, when it plunged more than 10%.

Some analysts say that might reflect the diminishing prospect of a “hard” Brexit.

Sterling initially fell after an exit poll was released as the polls closed at 22:00 cast doubt on an overall Conservative majority, raising concerns about increased uncertainty and a possible delay to Brexit negotiations.

Sterling has been trading in a range between $1.28 and $1.30 in recent weeks.

Conservatives have lost their majority in the UK’s snap general election that has resulted in a hung parliament.

With just a handful of seats left to declare, June 8 poll shows gains for the opposition Labour Party.

This is seen as a humiliation for PM Theresa May, who chose to call the election to try to strengthen her hand in talks with the EU on Brexit.

Labour leader and Theresa May’s main rival, Jeremy Corbyn, urged her to resign, but she said her party would “ensure” stability in the UK.

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She said on June 9: “At this time more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability.

“And if, as the indications have shown and if this is correct that the Conservative Party has won the most seats and probably the most votes, then it will be incumbent on us to ensure we have that period of stability – and that is exactly what we will do.”

Theresa May – who had a small majority in the previous parliament – had called an early election to try to improve her negotiation positions on Brexit.

However, EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger told German radio he was unsure Brexit talks could start later this month as scheduled. He said discussions with a weak UK negotiating partner could lead to a poor outcome.

Jeremy Corbyn earlier said: “If there is a message from tonight’s results, it’s this: the prime minister called this election because she wanted a mandate. Well, the mandate she’s got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence.”

“I would have thought that’s enough to go, and make way for a government that will be truly representative of all of the people of this country,” he added.

Final election results are expected on June 9 at midday.

The biggest shock of the night so far has been Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg losing his seat to a Labour candidate. He was deputy prime minister of the UK from 2010 to 2015 in a coalition government with the Conservatives.

Former Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond was also defeated, losing his seat to a Conservative.

A total of 650 Westminster lawmakers are being elected, with about 45.8 million people entitled to vote. A party needs 326 seats to have an overall majority.

Voting is under way in the UK at more than 40,000 polling stations across the country.

Polls opened at 07:00 BST on June 8, with counting starting once voting ends at 22:00 BST.

A total of 650 Westminster lawmakers will be elected, with about 46.9 million people registered to vote.

That is up from the last general election, in 2015, when there were 46.4 million registered voters.

Some votes have already been cast, through postal voting, which accounted for 16.4% of the total electorate at the 2015 general election. People with an undelivered postal vote can still deliver it by hand to their local polling station.

Two years ago, when the Conservatives won 331 out of 650 seats, overall turnout was 66.4%, up from 2010.

Most polling stations are in schools, community centers and parish halls, but pubs, a launderette and a school bus have been used in the past.

Police have increased security at polling stations, including patrols by armed officers in some areas, following the recent terror attacks.

A handful of seats are expected to be declared by midnight, with the final results expected on June 9.

Unusually, no local elections are taking place at the same time, so results might come through earlier than in recent general elections.

In 2015, the first seat to declare was Houghton and Sunderland South, at 22:48 BST.

To form a majority in the House of Commons one party must win 326 seats – in 2015 a Conservative majority was not confirmed until 13:34 BST.

Polls close at 22:00 BST, but officials say anyone in a polling station queue at this time should be able to cast their vote.

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UK’s parliament has overwhelmingly agreed to let the government begin the country’s exit from the EU as it voted for the Brexit bill.

The bill was approved by 494 votes to 122, and now moves to the House of Lords.

Shadow business secretary Clive Lewis was one of 52 Labour lawmakers to defy party orders to back the bill and he resigned from the front bench.

PM Theresa May wants to trigger formal Brexit talks by the end of March.

The prime minister will do this by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, but requires Parliament’s permission before doing so.

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Clive Lewis, who earlier said he was undecided on whether to support the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, announced his resignation as parliament began voting for the final time.

He said he “cannot, in all good conscience, vote for something I believe will ultimately harm the city I have the honor to represent, love and call home”.

Leader Jeremy Corbyn said he understood the difficulties the vote presented some of his members of parliament but said they had been ordered to back the Article 50 because the party would not “block Brexit”.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who missed last week’s initial vote on the bill, backed it this time.

The Labour rebellion was five lawmakers up on last week’s vote, while former Chancellor Ken Clarke was again the only Conservative to vote against the two-clause bill.

During the voting, SNP lawmakers were reprimanded by deputy speaker Lindsay Hoyle after they started singing Ode to Joy, the EU anthem.

UK’s PM Theresa May has started forming her new government – as she begins her first full day in Downing Street.

Former London mayor and leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson said he was “humbled” having been named new foreign secretary, in one of Theresa May’s first cabinet appointments.

Philip Hammond became chancellor, Amber Rudd is home secretary, and Eurosceptic David Davis is new Brexit secretary.

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Theresa May later told European leaders she was committed to the UK leaving the EU.

Asked about his first priorities as chancellor, Philip Hammond said there would be “no emergency Budget”.

Philip Hammond said he would work closely with the Bank of England and other economic experts and make “carefully considered decisions over the summer”, followed by an Autumn Statement “in the normal way”.

Before the EU referendum, Philip Hammond’s predecessor George Osborne said he would have to cut public spending and increase taxes in an emergency Budget if the UK voted for Brexit.

In a series of congratulatory phone calls taken by Theresa May on July 13, the UK’s second female prime minister spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, France’s President Francois Hollande and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

A Downing Street spokesman said Theresa May had “emphasized her commitment to delivering the will of the British people to leave the European Union”.

“The prime minister explained that we would need some time to prepare for these negotiations and spoke of her hope that these could be conducted in a constructive and positive spirit,” the spokesman added.

Theresa May will continue to fill out her new cabinet on July 14, with the new secretaries of state for health, education, and work and pensions among those expected to be appointed.

Richard O'Dwyer Extradition Support

Many people especially in the UK will have heard and read about 24yr old Sheffield Hallam University student Richard O’Dwyer’s fight against extradition to the USA on a charge of copyright infringement over a linking site he made (TVShack.net) even though he has not been to America since he was 5 years old!

His mum Julia describes this as “The Fight of Our Lives” Richard if convicted in a US court could find himself in a Federal  prison for up to 10 years and subject to a $250,000 fine. Though Richard and Julia are fighting against this disproportionate extradition and with no help from the British government who have rubber stamped Richard’s extradition, in reality hardly any British citizens have successfully fought extradition to the USA. You can find out more about Richard’s situation by following Julia on twitter @jrodwyer and have a look on her blog http://juliasblog-the-fight-of-our-lives.blogspot.co.uk/

Everything is stacked against Richard even though he has yet to have his appeal. Julia needs to plan for the worst in case Richard is extradited to the USA. Fighting extradition has been costly so far even though Richard’s legal costs have been funded by legal aid in the UK.

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Sheffield student Richard O’Dwyer, 24, faces extradition to the US and up to 10 years in prison for alleged copyright offences after setting up a website with links to TV shows called TVShack.com. Here, he discusses why he set up the site; his arrest and detention; and the battle his family faces to keep him in the UK

TV Shack Admin Richard O’Dwyer “Almost Certain” To Be Extradited To US

 

The recent decision not to extradite hacker Gary McKinnon to the United States was considered by some as a sign of hope for the predicament of former TVShack admin Richard O’Dwyer. But while there is still a High Court appeal around the corner, things still don’t look good. Speaking with TorrentFreak, Richard’s mother says her son’s extradition is now “almost certain” which is forcing her to plan for a worst case scenario in which he is sent across the Atlantic with little notice. Can you help?

In 2011, Richard O’Dwyer was arrested by police for operating TVShack, a website that listed user-submitted links to TV-shows hosted on other websites.

Earlier this year UK Home Secretary Theresa May officially approved an extradition request from US authorities and ever since Richard and his mother Julia have battled against it. Their campaign has received high-profile support from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who characterized the case as a clash between civil liberties and the interests of the copyright industries.

Right now Richard is awaiting his appeal to the High Court against the decision of a judge in a lower court to allow his extradition to go ahead. That appeal is scheduled for December 4 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Julia O’Dwyer says the appeal will take place on a number of issues but mainly against the lower court judge’s decision.

“In order to proceed with an extradition the alleged conduct must be a crime punishable with more than 12 months in prison in both countries. Despite the Judge saying at the Oct/Nov hearings last year that we had a good strong legal argument supporting this (an opinion which was agreed by the prosecution Barrister), when considering his decision he strangely changed his mind and decided the other way,” Julia explains.

Since it was very similar in function, on many occasions Richard’s site TVShack has been compared to the now-defunct site TV-Links. The admins of TV-Links were also subjected to legal action but were cleared after a judge ruled that Section 17 of the European Commerce Directive 2000 afforded TV-Links a defense when it linked to other web sites. This ruling will form part of Richard’s appeal.

“We will be strengthening these arguments at appeal and as you might expect have sought expert IP opinion on the matter,” Julie adds.

Last week, UK Home Secretary Theresa May decided that alleged hacker Gary McKinnon would not be extradited to the US. She also announced that the government will make some changes to the existing extradition treaty, including the so-called Forum Amendment, which many viewed as good news for Richard’s case, but that’s not necessarily the case.

“This means that where an accused has committed all or a significant amount of the alleged conduct in the UK, then the courts will be able to decide whether they should be tried in the UK,” Julia explains.

“This is a major breakthrough and is what the campaigners for extradition reform have been fighting for for years. This would apply in Richard’s case but as the law has not yet been changed and I don’t know when it will, this is not likely to benefit Richard.”

While Julia notes that the UK government does technically have the power to apply the changes to Richard’s case, the McKinnon decision may mean that they choose not to.

“[The UK government] has just upset the US by keeping Gary Mckinnon here and they are already trying to sabotage any law changes planned by sending over a US Judge to give a lecture to the UK Parliament later this month,” she reveals.

Furthermore, while not a single US citizen has ever been extradited to the UK for a crime committed from the US, aside from the McKinnon decision Julia says that nearly all extraditions to the US of UK citizens (including those who have never set foot on US soil) have eventually gone ahead.

Faced with this bleak outlook, Julia informs TorrentFreak that she is “almost certain” that Richard will be extradited to the US. To this end she is now being forced to prepare for this worst-case scenario.

Fortunately, several people have already offered to finance or work for free on Richard’s case in the US but there are additional costs still to be met.

“There still remains the worry of financial costs in the US. There will be personal financial costs associated with travel to the US, accommodation and the cost of securing an address for Richard to live at in order to be allowed bail. These costs will have to be covered by me somehow,” Julia explains.

“What concerns me are the unknown additional costs which we could be faced with such as a large bail bond or an even more costly financial penalty running into hundreds of thousands of dollars if Richard were to be found guilty,” she adds.

To prepare for this eventuality, a supporter has set up a fighting fund for Richard on GoFundMe with an initial target of £25,000.

“This is a large amount to be raised and I know times are hard for many of us so with that in mind please donate only if you can afford to do so. Your online and public support has been invaluable and has helped get us through this dreadful situation,” Julia concludes.

The petition set up by Jimmy Wales attracted hundreds of thousands of signatures – the hope is that just a few percent of those people will donate one or two pounds, euros, or dollars each.

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Nick Buckles, the chief executive of security firm G4S, will go before MPs later to explain why his company was unable to provide the Olympics staff it promised.

Nick Buckles has already apologized after 3,500 extra troops had to be deployed to meet the firm’s shortfall.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was no time for a “witch-hunt” but “contingency plans” were in place if G4S further failed to deliver.

It has emerged police have also helped fill gaps left by the company.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, the national Olympic security co-ordinator, said that the “basic plan” for the Games remained “exactly the same”, albeit with “a different mix of people”.

“I’m satisfied that we have got a very strong partnership – a group of people – who are working together with one goal, and that is to make sure the Olympics pass off safely and securely,” he said.

“In the event of a major incident happening, everybody understands that the police will take over and run that major incident while supported by everybody else,” he added.

Nick Buckles, G4S chief executive, will go before MPs to explain why his company was unable to provide the Olympics staff it promised

Nick Buckles, G4S chief executive, will go before MPs to explain why his company was unable to provide the Olympics staff it promised

Theresa May told the Commons on Monday that G4S had “repeatedly” promised they would exceed targets.

Nick Buckles, who is due to appear before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, has said he is “bitterly disappointed” at his company’s failure to meet the terms of its contract.

The company, by its own admission, stands to lose up to £50 million ($80 million) on the contract, worth a total of about £280 million ($445 million), after being unable to provide the 10,000 staff it had been contracted to deliver.

Labour MP David Winnick, who sits on the MPs’ committee, said he wanted to know why G4S had not told the authorities earlier what was going on.

“It’s a shambles and it’s unfortunate to say the least,” he said.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the government had “moved very quickly” when it learned of the company’s staffing issues.

“We would have been failing in our job as ministers if a contract had gone wrong and we didn’t have a back-up plan that worked.”

He said they would continue to monitor the contract.

Asked if it might be necessary to call on further troops, he replied: “Of course if G4S don’t deliver what they now say they can provide, we have contingency plans.”

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed army officials have met G4S over security.

But a Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “Olympic security remains a civilian and police-led operation which has not changed.

“For many months the MoD has been working closely with G4S with military personnel embedded as Olympic security plans have developed. As you would expect, the level of liaison has increased as the Games has drawn closer and the military contribution has increased.”

Police meanwhile have had to deploy extra officers at short notice from eight UK forces to do Olympic security work after the company’s staff failed to turn up to venues.

G4S said security was tightened at venues before staff was assigned, but that this was being rectified over the “coming days” and should lead to the withdrawal of police from roles assigned to private security.

Greater Manchester Police had to deploy officers to provide security at a hotel in Salford where four Olympic football teams will stay – after only 17 of an expected 56 G4S staff turned up for work.

In the Commons on Monday the home secretary reiterated the government only knew on Wednesday that there would not be enough G4S security guards and had reacted quickly.

In her statement to MPs, Theresa May denied the company had “deliberately deceived” the government, insisting the firm’s problem was “workforce supply and scheduling”.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said David Cameron was involved in the decision to deploy extra soldiers.

Heathrow airport had its busiest day ever on Monday as Olympic athletes and officials started arriving from 50 countries. The airport handled nearly a quarter of a million passengers.

Those arriving were the first to use dedicated Games Lanes on the M4.