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Tory leadership hopeful Rory Stewart claims Boris Johnson is ‘COPYING’ him

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Trump administration plans to drastically weaken law protecting endangered species

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is finalizing major changes Monday to the way it enforces the landmark Endangered Species Act, a move it says will reduce regulatory burden but critics charge will drive more creatures to extinction.

The administration was making public a final rule overhauling the way the federal government handles protections for plants and animals at risk of extinction. Information about the rule and Monday’s release was obtained by The Associated Press beforehand.

The Endangered Species Act is credited with helping save the bald eagle, the California condor and scores of other animals and plants from extinction since President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1973.

The Trump administration says the changes will make regulation more efficient and less burdensome while preserving protections for wildlife.

At least 10 attorneys general joined conservation groups in protesting an early draft of the changes, saying they put more wildlife at greater risk of extinction.

A draft version of the changes released last year included ending blanket protections for animals newly deemed threatened and allowing federal authorities for the first time to consider the economic cost of protecting a particular species. Another change could let authorities disregard impacts from climate change, one of the largest threats to habitat, conservation groups said.

The final rule broadly sticks to those changes, according to a person briefed on the changes who was not authorized to publicly speak about them.

Conservationists promised legal action.

“This effort to gut protections for endangered and threatened species has the same two features of most Trump administration actions: it’s a gift to industry, and it’s illegal. We’ll see the Trump administration in court about it,” Drew Caputo, a vice president of litigation for the conservation advocacy group Earthjustice, said.

The Endangered Species Act currently protects more than 1,600 species in the United States and its territories.

A United Nations report warned in May that more than 1 million plants and animals globally face extinction, some within decades, owing to human development, climate change and other threats. The report called the rate of species loss a record.

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Boris fires back at Brexit ‘blocker’ Hammond with promise ‘we are leaving October 31’

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FORMER chancellor Philip Hammond has accused Boris Johnson of trying to wreck Britain’s chances of leaving the European Union with a withdrawal agreement but the Downing Street has fired back.

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Bolton’s message to the U.K. on Brexit: ‘We’re with you’

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LONDON — U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said Monday that the White House fully supports British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to leave the European Union by Oct. 31, even without a Brexit deal.

“I think if that’s the decision of the British government, we will support it enthusiastically,” Bolton said. “And that’s what I’m trying to convey: We’re with you. We’re with you.”

Bolton, speaking to reporters in London after a day of meetings with British officials, said it was “unmistakable” that the United Kingdom will be exiting, whether the new government reaches a deal with the E.U. or not. “They’re ready to go,” Bolton said.

He said the White House agreed to put discussions on issues unrelated to Brexit on hold while the British government focuses on leaving the bloc, including whether the U.K. will stick with the Iran nuclear deal or declare it dead as the United States hopes.

“The president and the U.S. government fully understand that in the next 80 days, the U.K. government has a singular focus on the Brexit issue,” he said. “We just ask that as issues come up, we just resolve them individually and that we reserve the time to have a larger conversation on some of these important issues at a moment that’s really right for the new government.”

Bolton spoke with Johnson for a few minutes Monday while he was at 10 Downing Street meeting with some of his top advisers. They discussed Brexit and Johnson’s planned first meeting with President Donald Trump since he became prime minister, set to take place later this month on the sidelines of the G-7 Summit in France, Bolton said.

The relationship between Trump and Johnson is “off to a roaring start,” Bolton said, and they’ve already had a handful of phone calls.

Trump and Johnson spoke again Monday about trade and global security issues, according to the White House.

“The president expressed his appreciation for the United Kingdom’s steadfast partnership in addressing global challenges and looks forward to meeting with him personally in the near future,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

A Downing Street spokesperson said Johnson and Bolton discussed trade between the U.S. and the U.K., “and our shared commitment to an ambitious free trade agreement once the U.K. leaves the E.U.”

“They also spoke about Brexit and a range of other issues — including Iran, Hong Kong, and 5G,” the official said.

Bolton, who predicted that Brexit “will result in a strong NATO,” is scheduled to meet with defense and trade ministers here Tuesday.

He said the main focus in the U.S.-U.K. relationship right now is negotiating bilateral trade agreements that would initially deal with specific sectors, perhaps financial services and some manufactured goods, then shift to a more comprehensive deal. The goal is to achieve “as much as we can agree on as rapidly as possible,” Bolton said.

Bolton predicted that any new U.S. trade agreements with the U.K. would receive overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress.

He said there is “zero chance” that Brexit would pose a threat to the Good Friday agreement, a peace accord between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Some U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern that Brexit without an agreement with the E.U. would jeopardize the peace deal by closing off the open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“Nobody in Britain or anywhere else has talked about a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. That’s in nobody’s interest,” Bolton said. If there’s no Brexit deal with the E.U., then there won’t be a backstop resolution, he said, but the U.K. and Ireland will figure out how to resolve the issue.

“The administration remains a strong supporter of the Good Friday agreement and we don’t see what the threat is,” Bolton said.

While Bolton said he and British officials discussed Britain’s use of equipment from the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, which the Trump administration has said is a national security threat, the U.K. is not going to make any decisions on the issue until after Brexit.

Even though the Johnson government will try for a Brexit deal with the E.U., Bolton gave no indication that the White House anticipates there will be an agreement. In that instance, he stressed the Trump administration will work with the U.K. to help achieve a smooth exit. He forcefully backed Britain following through this fall with the June 2016 vote to leave.

“The issue was leave or remain, and they voted to leave,” Bolton said of U.K. voters. “The fashion in the European Union: when the people vote the wrong way from the way the elites want to go, it’s to make the peasants vote again and again until they get it right.”

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