Belgian PM quits after government collapses in wake of migration row

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Belgian PM quits after government collapses in wake of migration row


Resignation: Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel. Photo: Reuters
Resignation: Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel. Photo: Reuters

Charles Michel resigned as prime minister of Belgium last night after his coalition government collapsed in the face of virulent opposition to his signing of a UN migration pact from his erstwhile partners.

Mr Michel, a French-speaking liberal, lost the support of the right-wing Flemish N-VA, the largest party in his coalition, over the UN pact, which opponents claimed would open the door to greater migration.

Belgium is now bracing itself for a snap election as early as next month.

Mr Michel told lawmakers that he was going to see the king to offer his resignation after socialists and greens pushed for a motion of no-confidence in his now minority government or for a snap election.

His agreement to the pact had prompted violent protests in Brussels at the weekend.

King Philippe is now expected to consult with the political parties in preparation for a January election.

Last night, Mr Michel refused to submit to a no-confidence vote and told lawmakers that a snap vote would lead to “stagnation for the whole of 2019”. The next election had been due in May.

Instead, he said: “I am taking the decision to offer my resignation. I am now going to see the king.”

Amid applause, he picked up his briefcase, shook the hands of a number of government ministers, and left. The Flemish N-VA’s withdrawal had left Mr Michel’s liberal MR supported only by two smaller Flemish parties.

The UN migration pact was agreed in July by all 193 members except the US, but only 164 formally signed it at a meeting in Marrakesh on December 10.

Some European politicians say the accord, aimed at fostering global co-operation on the issue, could increase immigration. But supporters of the deal accuse them of fearmongering.

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On Sunday, about 5,500 turned out in Brussels for a rally called by Flemish right-wing parties to protest against the pact.

Police deployed tear gas and water cannon after scuffles broke out at the rally.

Riot police stepped in after projectiles and firecrackers were thrown, and about 90 people were detained.

© Daily Telegraph London

Telegraph.co.uk

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