‘Brexit is CATASTROPHIC!’ Juncker finally admits British ‘never felt comfortable in EU’

The President of the European Commission said the European Union’s hands were “outstretched” to welcome Britain back into the bloc.

Speaking in European Parliament, he said: “When it comes to Brexit I am sure that there will be no winners from this situation.

“This is a lose-lose situation, it’s a lose-lose situation both for the British and for the members of the European Union.

“I continue to feel that the exit of Great Britain is a catastrophe.

“It is a defeat that we all have to deal with the consequences of but the causes of the British decision run much deeper.

“As Mrs May has said the British have never felt entirely comfortable with the European Union so the guilt lies upon many shoulders.

“Mr Tusk said that our hands remain outstretched.

“The British people, the British government may wish to find a different way out of the Brexit situation, we’re very much willing to deal with them.

“We are not throwing the British out, we would like the British to stay and if they so wish they should be allowed to do so.”

Mr Juncker also addressed outrage by Brexiteer’s over the EU’s attempts to bring Britain back into the fold on Tuesday.

He said: “I did note that in London, there was a rather irritated response to this proposal.

“Note that even if the British leave, according to Article 50, then Article 94 would allow them to exit again.

“I would be happy to facilitate that so I certainly wouldn’t want to push anyone into a corner.”

 

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Home and Away actress has died,

Home and Away actress Jessica Falkholt has died from injuries she suffered in a car crash three weeks ago, an Australian hospital has confirmed.

The accident in New South Wales on 26 December had already killed her parents, sister and the other driver.

The actress, 29, played Hope Morrison in the soap.

Her life support was switched off last week and she died on Wednesday morning local time, said St George Hospital in Sydney.

“The family has asked for privacy during this very difficult time,” it said in a statement.

Jessica’s parents Lars, 69, and Vivian, 60, were killed instantly in the crash and her sister Annabelle, 21, died in hospital three days later.

Australian police are still investigating the crash, which also killed 50-year-old Craig Whitall, who was driving the other car.

At the time of the crash, authorities said they were examining whether Mr Whitall’s car had been on the wrong side of the road.

Last week, hundreds of people attended a funeral service for Lars, Vivian and Annabelle Falkholt in Sydney.

Vivian Falkholt’s brother Paul Ponticello spoke at the funeral, saying he had thought he and his sister “would grow old together”.

Falkholt’s stint on the long-running series only lasted for 16 episodes and ended in November 2016. She then filmed a role in the US film Harmony, which is set for release this year.

Channel Seven, the show’s broadcaster, said “the entire Home and Away family is heartbroken”.

“Jessica’s shining talent was recognised and respected by all her cast-mates and crew and her beautiful friendship treasured,” the statement read.

Former Home and Away star Pia Miller paid tribute to the “wonderful” actress on Instagram. She and other co-stars had regularly asked for prayers and support for the actress since the crash.

The National Institute of Dramatic Art, where Falkholt had studied, said it was mourning “the tragic passing of our talented young graduate”.

Her death has also sparked messages of grief from the show’s fans.

 

Myanmar police kill seven Buddhist protesters in Rakhine

Police in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state have opened fire on Buddhist protesters, killing at least seven.

The violence occurred after more than 4,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists gathered in Mrauk U on Tuesday to protest at a ban on the annual commemoration of the fall of the ancient Arakan kingdom.

Several injured people were also taken to hospital.

Myanmar is home to scores of ethnic groups, some of which have come into armed conflict with the government.

Mrauk U is the historic capital of the ancient kingdom of Arakan, and every year the local Rakhine population commemorates the conquest of that kingdom 200 years ago by Burmese forces.

This year though authorities refused permission for the event to go ahead. A large crowd surrounded a government office in protest, and the police opened fire on them, causing multiple casualties.

According to the local authorities, police initially fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters and used real ammunition only when demonstrators started throwing stones and bricks.

Ethnic tensions
This can only complicate the government’s efforts to address the wider conflict in Rakhine state, says the BBC’s South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head.

More than 650,000 members of a different ethnic group, the Muslim Rohingya, fled to neighbouring Bangladesh last year in the face of a military crackdown.

Tuesday’s protests took place on the same day that Myanmar agreed with Bangladesh on a timeframe to repatriate the Rohingya.

Communal tension between the Buddhist Rakhine population and Muslim Rohingya has risen sharply in recent years. Many Rakhine Buddhists joined the attacks on Rohingya villages, and their leaders are adamant that they will not accept the refugees back from Bangladesh, our correspondent says.

The Buddhist Rakhine or Arakanese trace their history back to the Arakanese kingdom at the Bay of Bengal which was conquered by the Burmese in 1784.

Ethnic minorities make up around 40% of the population of Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Many have suffered persecution at the hands of the government, and some have built up separatist armies – armed conflicts continue between government troops and various ethnic groups, although ceasefires have been signed with others.