A renegotiated Brexit would go ahead under Labour government: Corbyn

Critics argue that Corbyn has been happy to go along with the policy as long as the vote to leave the bloc is respected. (File/AFP)
Updated 22 December 2018

A renegotiated Brexit would go ahead under Labour government: Corbyn

  • Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29
  • A new election is not due until 2022 but one could be called if May fails to get her primary policy through parliament

LONDON: Britain’s opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn would push ahead with Brexit and seek to renegotiate the terms if he won a snap election next year, he said on Saturday, in a blow to party supporters who want a second referendum.
Like much of Britain, Corbyn’s Labour party is deeply divided over Brexit, with some senior lawmakers leading calls for a fresh vote and others representing areas that recorded the highest support for leaving the European Union in the 2016 plebiscite.
Corbyn, a Socialist with little passion for the EU, has been reluctant to support a second referendum, or People’s Vote, but with less than 100 days to go until Brexit the clamour is growing for either a delay or a second vote to prevent Britain leaving without a deal.
“You’d have to go back and negotiate, and see what the timetable would be,” the 69-year-old told the Guardian newspaper, when asked what he would do if he won an early election designed to break the deadlock in parliament.
Asked what stance Labour would take if a referendum were held, Corbyn said: “it would be a matter for the party to decide what the policy would be; but my proposal at this moment is that we go forward, trying to get a customs union with the EU, in which we would be able to be proper trading partners.”
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29. Prime Minister Theresa May has struck a withdrawal agreement with Brussels but was forced to pull a parliamentary vote on it last week after admitting she would lose by a large margin.
A new election is not due until 2022 but one could be called if May fails to get her primary policy through parliament.
Labour wants a permanent customs union with the EU and a close relationship with its lucrative single market. The policy has been dubbed “constructive ambiguity” by some, who question whether Labour could negotiate a better deal.
Critics argue that Corbyn has been happy to go along with the policy as long as the vote to leave the bloc is respected.
He told the Guardian he still had concerns about EU rules on state aid, and that he had to balance the views of all those in the party and understand why so many voted to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc.
He said his plan for a customs union with the EU, to protect trade and access to the market, was designed to do just that.


Pakistani pilot who steered first Emirates flight remembers birth of UAE airline

Updated 9 min 38 sec ago

Pakistani pilot who steered first Emirates flight remembers birth of UAE airline

  • The historic flight took off from Dubai to Karachi on Oct. 25, 1985
  • Carrier’s success lies in leadership that prioritizes competence, retired captain says

ISLAMABAD: Thirty-five years after he steered the first Emirates flight, retired Capt. Fazal Ghani Mian says the success of the UAE flag carrier was and remains its competence and merit.

The first Emirates flight, EK600, took off from Dubai to Karachi on Oct. 25, 1985.

Recalling the airline’s birth and having observed its operations for more than three decades, the former chief pilot of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), who flew the Emirates Airbus A300 on its maiden trip, says the UAE flag carrier’s success lies in leadership that prioritizes competence.

“Emirates selects people on merit and they give them responsibility with authority,” he told Arab News in an interview this week. “No outside interference in their job. I am proud that I was a part of competent people who played a role in building Emirates airline from scratch.”

His involvement with Emirates was a result of PIA’s contract with Dubai to provide pilots, engineers and two aircraft to help establish the UAE airline.

“I came to Dubai on Oct. 1, 1985 and met Emirates Airline managing director Maurice Flanagan and their teams,” Mian said. “We discussed the tasks ahead related to the arrival of two aircraft to lay the foundation of the Emirates airline.”

Retired Capt. Fazal Ghani Mian speaks to Arab News in Islamabad on Oct. 28. (AN photo)

“We used to discuss the progress every day and prepare reports, and if there was any problem we found we used to help each other solve it.

“I am grateful to the great leadership of Sheikh Ahmed who was conducting these meetings,” he said, referring to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, the president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and founder of the Emirates Group.

The two aircraft were painted in Emirates colors at a PIA hangar in Karachi, all in secrecy. They were then flown to Dubai.

“On Oct. 18, 1985 a team of engineers, along with two aircraft, arrived at Dubai airport with the Emirates insignia. The aircraft were kept in a hangar at the far corner of the airport away from the public eye,” Mian said.

On Oct. 23, 1985, the Pakistani-Emirati team had to operate five special VIP flights over Dubai.

“On Oct. 22, we received some uniforms very late at night,” the former captain said. “The laundry was closed but a young man working in the hotel took the uniforms and pressed them at his residence and brought it back around midnight.”

“I was praying that nothing bad would happen,” Mian said. “The first Airbus flight was around 11 o’clock and Sheikh Mohammed (bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai) and other royal dignitaries were sitting on the aircraft. We flew over Dubai for 45 minutes and we were escorted by Dubai air force fighter pilots.”

Two days later the UAE flag carrier took off on its first official flight.

“On Oct. 25, we operated the first official flight to Karachi with top royal dignitaries of UAE and employees of Emirates airline on board,” Mian said.

The smooth beginning came with a dream landing.

“Landing was so smooth that nobody realized the aircraft had landed,” Mian said. “This was the beginning of Emirates