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Bitesized Blighty: March 22, 2019

Toyosi Adebayo

  • Brexit Dating: After eight hours of discussions on Thursday evening, European Union (EU) leaders finally agreed that the UK can delay Brexit past 29 March - but under certain conditions, and with an offer of two new dates:

22 May - The UK will leave the EU on thus date, if Members of Parliament (MPs) approve Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal on Tuesday March 26. One key reason 22 May was chosen is because it is the day before voting begins in the European Parliament elections - elections in which the UK government does not want to take part.

12 April - If UK MPs reject the Prime Minister’s deal, then the UK will need to leave the EU on 12 April with no deal, or with a new plan decided by then. The UK will need to tell the EU what it plans to do next by this date and this could include asking for another extension to Brexit. However, EU Council President Donald Tusk has said there could only be another delay if the UK agrees to stand in the European elections in May – a scenario the Country wishes to avoid.

With the EU agreeing to an extension, Mrs May now faces the daunting task of persuading MPs to approve her original deal, on Tuesday. A deal which MPs have rejected twice already.

  • Future Of Mobility: This week, the Department for Transport launched a review into road traffic regulations as part of a "Future of Mobility" strategy. Some proposed changes include lifting the road ban on electric scooters and skateboards and raising the speed limit on electric bikes to 15.5mph. The review follows a campaign dating back to 2018 when Bird, an American company valued at a couple of billion dollars, brought its electric scooter service to the UK. E-scooters are illegal on UK roads but evidently attitudes are changing given that the Department for Transport’s launched its review at the London Olympic Park, with Bird e-scooters in attendance. Bird put out a press release welcoming the review, with Richard Corbett, Head of Bird in the United Kingdom and Ireland saying "We're delighted by today's announcement, and we're looking forward to working with the government to make our cities greener, safer and more liveable for everyone.". Despite this, a statement by a spokeswoman for the Department of Transport seemed cautious when she clarified that "There are no plans to legislate to make e-scooters legal”, and that Bird's presence at the Olympic Park for the launch, was “purely coincidental as it happened to be the perfect location to look at our mobility future”. In any case, it seems it will be three years at least before there is any chance of e-scooters being allowed on UK streets.
  • UK Disaster Appeal Raises £8m In First Day: The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) announced that an appeal to help people in Mozambique and Zimbabwe affected by Cyclone Idai has raised £8m in 24 hours. The Committee which brings together 14 leading UK charities in times of crisis, announced that is supporting the rescue and relief effort by delivering clean water, emergency shelter materials, food and health assistance. The Queen and Prince of Wales were among those who gave donations after the disaster which killed more than 500 people. The £2m nation total was matched by the government – which now includes a pledge to match a further £2m in new donations. This fundraising reaction from the British public comes as more than two million people have been affected by storms and flooding in the aftermath of the powerful cyclone which hit the city of Beira in Mozambique on 14 March, leaving a trail of devastation as it moved inland across Zimbabwe and Malawi – and displacing  at least 400,00 people in Beira, according to the International Red Cross. 

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