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Outgoing Anti-EU Firebrand Farage Demands His Party Push For ‘Hard’ Brexit

Bournemouth, England (Reuters) – Nigel Farage, the firebrand of Britain’s Brexit campaign, used his final speech as leader of the UK Independence Party on Friday to demand that his successor pushes for a “hard” EU exit that meets the demands of his party’s voters.

UKIP played a crucial role in the June 23 European Union referendum, tapping into anger at Brussels and rising anti-establishment sentiment to fuel a surprise 52-48 percent exit vote which rocked global financial markets.

But the party has suffered a series of bitter rows over its future direction since then and, with its main star Farage stepping down, faces a struggle to retain its influence over voters. His successor is due to be named later in the day.

Making his valedictory address at the UKIP annual conference in the southern English resort of Bournemouth, Farage said his party had “changed the center of gravity” of British politics.

But he warned that his successor must not let the government water down the terms of Britain’s EU exit.

“We can be very proud of the fact that we won the war but we now must win the peace,” he told a crowd of cheering activists.

“The only mechanism to put pressure on the government to keep the debate live and to make sure that those 17.4 million people (who voted ‘Leave’) get what they voted for is for UKIP to be healthy and for UKIP to be strong.”

Commentators say UKIP has become so synonymous with Farage, who first led the party from 2006 until and 2009 then took over the reins again the following year, that his departure leaves a huge gap which will be hard to fill.

His speech drew rapturous applause from supporters crowded into the conference hall to see the party’s star performer.

It set out three criteria by which the success of the government’s Brexit negotiations should be judged: whether Britain is outside the single market and free from European regulation, whether it has control of fishing rights in its territorial waters, and whether it has got rid of EU passports.

After the referendum result, Farage said he would step down as leader, and has since lent his experience of leading a popular political uprising to U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign.

“I intend this autumn to travel around some other European capitals to try and help independents and democracy movements in those countries too,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Tina Bellon in London; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Photo: Nigel Farage, the outgoing leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), speaks at the party’s annual conference in Bournemouth, Britain, September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Walker Has Chance To Learn From Christie’s Blunders In Britain

By John McCormick, Bloomberg News (TNS)

CHICAGO — Visiting London this week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has the advantage of arriving just after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s departure.

For both men, the stated mission of a visit to the European financial hub is to boost trade in their home states. The unstated goal: bolster their credentials ahead of possible 2016 Republican presidential bids.

Christie might have been better off if he’d stayed home. Coverage of his three-day trip turned negative after he said parents should have choice in immunizing their children. He also offered no clear foreign-policy message and engaged in testy exchanges with reporters.

Walker’s journey comes as he has shown polling momentum in states that host the earliest nomination contests. He stands to benefit by contrast to Christie if he can avoid similar pitfalls.

“When you are on foreign soil, every move is fraught with peril,” said Katie Packer Gage, deputy campaign manager for 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

The two governors are just the latest potential 2016 Republicans to make a U.K. visit. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal came in January. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida were all there last year.

Though such visits are often largely about photo opportunities, U.S. voters and foreign leaders also use them to take the measure of politicians, said Peter Feaver, a political scientist at Duke University who studies foreign policy.

“If you can’t pass that test, then the American public won’t consider you a viable candidate,” he said. “They need to demonstrate that they can be sure-footed abroad when the attention is on them.”

Walker’s four-day trip may include just one public event, a speech Wednesday to the Chatham House think tank in London, which focuses on international affairs. The hour-long appearance is entitled “Building Global Partnerships for Stronger Local Economies.”

The second-term governor is also scheduled to visit business leaders and government officials, tour factories and host an alumni networking breakfast Wednesday for University of Wisconsin and Marquette University graduates.

“There are many reasons why companies in the U.K. should consider establishing or expanding their operations in Wisconsin, and we are going to make that case directly to the key decision-makers,” Walker, 47, said in a statement.

At $679 million in 2013, the U.K. is Wisconsin’s sixth-largest export market, behind Canada, Mexico, China, Japan and Germany, according to data from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Walker’s only previous trade mission was to China in 2013, according to an e-mail from Laurel Patrick, a spokeswoman. He’s also looking to book a trip to Israel this year, another common stop for presidential candidates.

In a Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm New Hampshire poll released during the weekend, Walker drew 12 percent of likely primary voters, behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. The poll, taken Jan. 31-Feb. 5 by Washington-based Purple Insights and with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, surveyed 400 Republican primary voters almost exactly a year before the 2016 New Hampshire primary.

Christie’s stumbles last week went beyond his lack of foreign-policy experience. He got caught up in an emotional debate surrounding a measles outbreak in the U.S. He told reporters that parents should have “some measure of choice” in vaccination. When that remark was condemned back home, his staff released a statement saying that Christie believes “there is no question kids should be vaccinated.”

The New Jersey governor’s trip didn’t sink to the level of Romney’s during the last campaign. Romney offended the British by raising doubts about whether London was prepared to host the Olympics, which began the week he arrived. That prompted London’s mayor to mock Romney at a rally in front of tens of thousands of people.

Gage, who spent months helping plan that trip, said U.S. politicians need savvy locals to help them prepare for unwanted surprises.

“You almost have to anticipate the worst kinds of headlines you could get,” she said.

Mike Tate, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, mocked Walker’s travels as he alluded to Christie’s.

“This trip might be a taxpayer-funded campaign to bolster his credibility on foreign policy, but the governor is still accountable for the mess he’s created in Wisconsin,” Tate said in a statement. “Unfortunately for Walker, overseas travel hasn’t been too kind to scandal-plagued Republican governors running for president.”

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Former Top Aide To Cameron Charged Over Child Abuse Images


LONDON — A former top aide to British Prime Minister David Cameron has been charged with making and possessing indecent images of children, the Crown Prosecution Service said Friday.

Patrick Rock, who worked on a much-vaunted government plan to offer Internet porn filters to all households, resigned as deputy head of Downing Street’s policy unit hours before he was arrested in February.

The 63-year-old has been charged with three counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possessing indecent images of children. The alleged offenses took place between July and August last year.

Cameron, who has worked with Rock since the 1990s, refused to comment on the charges at a news conference in Brussels, saying it would be inappropriate.

His office said in February that it had contacted police when it became aware of a “potential offense relating to child abuse imagery” and that it had offered them access to all IT systems and offices they considered relevant.

AFP Photo / Leon Neal

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