Final Thomas Cook holiday-makers to fly home to Britain

LONDON (Reuters) – The final contingent of holiday-makers stranded overseas after the collapse of tour company Thomas Cook last month will return to Britain on flights departing on Sunday, bringing to an end the country’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) launched “Operation Matterhorn” on Sept. 23 to bring home 150,000 people, just hours after the world’s oldest travel company failed to secure the creditor deal it needed to keep flying.

The CAA said 4,800 people were due to return on 24 flights on Sunday, with the final flight in the operation – a service from Orlando, Florida to Manchester – due to land on Monday morning.

CAA Chief Executive Richard Moriarty said: “In the first 13 days we have made arrangements for around 140,000 passengers to return to the UK and we are pleased that 94% of holiday-makers have arrived home on the day of their original departure.”

British Transport Minister Grant Shapps has said the government will try to recoup some of the costs of the repatriation, both from third parties such as insurers and from the failed company’s assets.

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‘Where do I go?’ EU citizens face legal limbo after decades in Britain

© Reuters. Anna Amato holds documentation and correspondence with The Home Office, with her husband Connell at her home in Bristol © Reuters. Anna Amato holds documentation and correspondence with The Home Office, with her husband Connell at her home in Bristol

By Andrew MacAskill

BRISTOL, England (Reuters) – Anna Amato was just two when she moved to Britain from Italy with her parents 55 years ago.

She has lived in Britain ever since, attending school and university, working in a variety of jobs, and paying taxes. She has always lived in the city of Bristol in the west of England, marrying a British husband and raising two British children.

Like thousands of European Union nationals who have made Britain their home after living in the country for decades, Amato always assumed she had earned the legal right to settle permanently.

But the government didn’t agree. The interior ministry rejected her request for permanent residency last year, saying she did not have enough evidence to document her status.

She was devastated.

“You are in your country, it is a democracy, all of a sudden you are told after this time no one knows what is going to happen to you,” Amato, 57, told Reuters. “Where do I go? It is really, really scary.”

Amato is one of a growing number of EU nationals denied the right to live indefinitely in Britain ahead of the country’s departure from the bloc, currently scheduled for October 31.

For decades, Britain’s membership of the EU has guaranteed the bloc’s citizens the right to live and work in the country. But as Britain prepares to sever ties with Brussels after 46 years, EU citizens must apply for a new legal lifeline to remain, known as settled status.

Under the government’s plans, EU citizens who can prove they have lived continuously in Britain for five years will be granted settled status, giving them the same rights to work, study and benefits they currently hold.

But Reuters has spoken to six EU nationals, including a top French chef, who have been refused settled status, even though they should automatically qualify through continuous residency.

Many EU nationals are concerned they could lose the right to free healthcare or employment. Others are worried about how they will prove they have the right to return if they travel abroad.

The fate of EU migrants has been thrown further into confusion by the government’s announcement this month that their automatic right to live and work in Britain will end abruptly – and sooner than expected – in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

‘SO INSULTING’

The problems facing EU nationals asked to suddenly prove their status mirrors the Windrush scandal, in which British citizens of Caribbean origin were denied rights despite living lawfully in the country for decades. Some lost jobs, others were wrongly deported.

Virendra Sharma, a lawmaker in the opposition Labour Party and a supporter of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign group, said Amato’s case was a sign the government is ill-prepared for such a drastic overhaul of the immigration system.

“Anna’s story is a tragic one,” he said. “How can somebody who has given so much of their life to the UK, who went to school here and got married here, have their existence in this country wiped? I think most people would say that can’t be right.”

Amato, who speaks with a soft Bristol accent, began trying to unravel her immigration status in 2017. It was a year after Britain voted to leave the EU and the government was promising to tighten immigration rules for the bloc’s citizens. She spent about three months compiling documents to apply for settled status. They included tax returns, bank statements, her qualifications and social security number, known in Britain as a national insurance number.

In a career spanning almost 40 years, Amato ran a pizza takeaway for almost 20 years and also worked as a personal assistant and counselor. Amato, who says she’s apolitical, estimates she has paid more than half a million pounds ($ 615,000) in taxes.

By the time she had finished collecting documents she filled a box, which was so heavy it cost her 35 pounds to post.

But the interior ministry refused her application saying she had “failed to show you have a permanent right of residence in the UK,” according to a letter seen by Reuters.

Amato then made a series of frantic calls to the ministry and sent almost a dozen emails complaining there had been a mistake. The government so far refused to change its decision.

In one email which particularly riles Amato, a government official told her she had failed to prove herself as, “a qualified person either as a worker, a self-employed person, a student, a jobseeker, or a self-sufficient person”. “It is so insulting,” she said, wiping away tears. “You know we all need a basic need to feel a sense of belonging, wherever we are.”

“All of a sudden, they snatch it away from you. You become unstable. It gives you anxiety, stress, you know it affects every aspect of your life. It is so upsetting,” she said.

The interior ministry said Amato had not reapplied under its EU Settlement Scheme and that it had told her where to get assistance with the process.

The government launched its EU Settlement Scheme for registering EU citizens in January this year.

‘PAINFUL AND EMBARRASSING’

The status of British and EU nationals living in each other’s territories has been one of the most important issues in Brexit talks, which have dragged on for the past three years.

Both sides have promised to ensure settled citizens do not lose any rights.

In his first statement to parliament after becoming prime minister in July, Boris Johnson said he wanted to thank EU citizens living in Britain for their contribution and promised to ensure they could remain after Brexit.

But Daniel Hannan, a prominent Brexit supporter and Conservative lawmaker in the European Parliament, has called on the government to do more, saying he had been contacted by EU nationals in his constituency denied long-term residency.

“This is a breach of the assurances I and other Leavers gave during the referendum,” he said. “Please help sort this out.”

Until recently, the government had been advising the estimated 3.5 million EU citizens living in Britain that they had until December 2020 to register to retain their rights. So far, only about 1 million people have applied.

Richard Bertinet, a renowned French chef who has lived in Britain for the past 31 years, was denied settled status after applying earlier this month with the help of his British wife, a former lawyer.

Bertinet, who has written two award-winning cookbooks, appeared on cookery television programs and set up a bakery that supplies upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose, said he had only been granted pre-settled status.

The ministry gave him the right to stay until 2024, when he will need to reapply for settled status. “It is painful and embarrassing,” he told Reuters. “I have spent more time in my life in this country than in France.”

Bertinet said he fears more for vulnerable people, such as those who speak poor English or the elderly.”There are going to be a lot of tears for a lot of people.”The interior ministry said in response to a request for comment that it has been in touch with Bertinet to help him provide evidence to be granted settled status.But others may not be so fortunate. It can be particularly difficult to prove residency for stay-at-home parents or carers even if they have lived in Britain for years.

Amato says she is not sure she will apply again to confirm her residency status – and will just deal with the consequences.

She could apply for citizenship through her British husband. But she’s offended by the idea of having to sit an English and history test and paying more than a thousand pounds to get citizenship after living in Britain for over half a century.

“I resent the fact I have to apply for settlement in my own country. If I apply again, I am enabling the system,” she said. “What is next? A badge, branding?”

Amato says her Italian father, who had dementia in later life and died in March, would be upset at how EU migrants are being treated. He moved his family to Britain to work in a factory making washing machines in 1964, a time when Britain was looking abroad for workers.

“He loved the UK because he thought it was a fair and decent nation. He was proud to be here,” she said. “I feel betrayed.”

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U.S. and Britain discuss trade deal that could take effect on Nov. 1

© Reuters. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton arrives for a meeting with Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid  at Downing Street in London © Reuters. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton arrives for a meeting with Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid at Downing Street in London

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the United States are discussing a partial trade accord that could take effect on Nov. 1, the day after Britain is due to leave the European Union, a senior Trump administration official said on Tuesday.

The official also said visiting U.S. national security adviser John Bolton and British trade minister Liz Truss had discussed the possibility of the two countries’ leaders signing a road map declaration toward a trade deal at this month’s G7 summit meeting in France.

The official told reporters that Bolton and British finance minister Sajid Javid had discussed the possibility of a temporary trade agreement that covered all sectors and could last for something like six months.

During his two-day London visit, Bolton told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that President Donald Trump wanted to see a successful British exit from the European Union on Oct. 31 and that Washington would be ready to work fast on a U.S.-UK free trade agreement.

Bolton, who has now left Britain, was seeking an improved U.S.-British relationship with Johnson after sometimes tense ties between Trump and Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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Eyeing post-Brexit trade deals, Britain looks to train school-leavers as future negotiators

By Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) – As Britain prepares to carry out its own trade negotiations for the first time in decades, the government has launched a scheme to recruit and train school-leavers as future commerce experts.

The Department of International Trade, which was created after the 2016 vote to leave the European Union, said its two-year scheme would include placements with teams working on future trade deals and supporting British companies exporting.

“As we leave the European Union and take up trade in our own right as a policy, we have had to develop all the skills to be able to do that,” trade minister Liam Fox said at the launch of the scheme, as school children taking part in a mock trade negotiation noisily bartered over products in the background.

“I wanted young people in particular to look at the world of trade and say ‘that is a profession I would like to go into, that is something I would like to do as a career.'”

Britain cannot formally sign trade deals with other countries until it has left the European Union but has been working to amass expertise, replicate agreements it is part of as a member of the EU and lay the groundwork for new deals.

Those applying for the scheme, which will pay around 30,000 pounds ($ 37,600) a year, do not need to have any qualifications. The department expects most candidates will either be 18-year-old school-leavers or people wanting to switch careers.

It will also include a six-month posting in one of Britain’s trade offices around the world.

“If you want to sell Britain properly you have to know what Britain has to sell but you have to also understand the markets that we are selling into,” Fox told Reuters.

Britain’s Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser Crawford Falconer, who previously worked as New Zealand’s Chief Negotiator, said the scheme was not about filling a gap in trade negotiating talent in Britain.

“We have got plenty of trade negotiating talent but what we need to have is greater diversity and greater choice and for people to enter at a younger age,” he said.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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