Friday, 18 January 2019: UK in deadlock over Brexit Plan B, German parliament passes post Brexit law, Russia to keep up Council of Europe boycott, Berlusconi to run in European election


UK in deadlock over Brexit Plan B: Britain’s last-minute scramble to shape an EU exit stalled on Thursday as Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dug in their heels for competing visions. Corbyn said May had sent Britain hurtling towards the cliff edge of a disorderly exit with no transition period, and urged her to ditch red lines. But he repeated his own prerequisite for talks: a pledge to block a no-deal Brexit. May told Corbyn that was an impossible condition and urged him to join cross-party discussions. According to the „Guardian“, Corbyn could face up to a dozen resignations from the Labour frontbench if the party backs a second referendum as a way out of the Brexit crisis. Several junior shadow ministers told the newspaper they are strongly opposed to the idea of a second referendum, which they fear would expose Labour to a vicious backlash in leave-voting constituencies. The Liberal Democrats have said they will not support Labour in future no-confidence votes unless the party backs a second referendum., (Labour), (Lib Dems)

Speaker Bercow could be denied peerage: Such is the anger with the Speaker at senior levels of government, it has been suggested he could be blocked from getting a peerage when he retires. Ministers are furious at what they see as John Bercow’s bias during Commons debates on Brexit. By tradition, retiring Speakers have stood down as MPs at the same time, triggering a by-election. They are then awarded a peerage at the request of the Commons, in a motion asking the Queen to „confer some signal mark of Her Royal favour upon“ them. After a recommendation from Downing Street to Buckingham Palace, they then sit in the Upper House as a crossbencher, an independent. This is what happened the last time a Speaker stood down.

Nuclear plant in Anglesey suspended by Hitachi: Hitachi has said it will suspend work on a multi-billion-pound UK nuclear project because of rising costs. The decision puts thousands of jobs at risk if the £13bn plant at Wylfa Newydd in Anglesey, north Wales, is scrapped. The Japanese firm had been in talks with the UK government since June about funding for the project. The government said it had failed to agree terms with Hitachi. About 9,000 workers had been expected to be involved in building the two nuclear reactors, which were due to be operational by the mid-2020s.

Fiona Onasanya: Peterborough MP appeals against conviction
Royal family: Prince Philip escapes unhurt from car crash


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German parliament passes post Brexit law: The German Bundestag on Thursday passed a law to prepare for a possible transition period until late 2020. The law, which would come into force when Britain formally leaves the EU and the so-called transitional phase begins, is supposed to create clarity for people likely to be affected by Brexit, especially British nationals living in Germany and Germans living in the UK. Opening the parliament’s debate, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the government was intensifying its plans for the case of an unregulated Brexit, though he expressed his hope that an orderly Brexit could still be achieved. As things stand, the UK will acquire the status of a „third country“ in Germany on 30 March, which will have major bureaucratic repercussions in a number of areas that, according to the Free Democrats (FDP), the government is not properly prepared for. The EU Commission is sending experts to the capitals of the remaining 27 EU member states to harmonise the bloc’s no-deal Brexit preparations. British Prime Minister Theresa May has told opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn that ruling out a no-deal Brexit was an impossible precondition for participation in cross-party talks to resolve the political deadlock. After May survived a no confidence motion on Wednesday night, the Labour leader had told MPs he would not enter into talks with her unless she ruled out a no-deal Brexit. In order to focus on matters at home, May will not attend this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos. France has triggered contingency plans for a hard Brexit. (Bundestag), (EU), (Corbyn), (Davos), (France)

Russia to keep up Council of Europe boycott: Russian lawmakers on Thursday voted against sending a delegation to the Council of Europe and to not resume funding of the body. Deputies in the Russian parliament accused the council of violating the rights of Russia by stripping their delegation of voting rights over the Crimea crisis. Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the council had imposed sanctions on Russia’s delegation, stripping it of voting rights and excluding it from the body’s monitoring missions and leadership structures. In response, Moscow representatives refused to take part in plenary sessions. Russia also stopped its funding contribution in 2018. This led to financial problems for the organisation.

Berlusconi to run in European election: Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced on Thursday that he will run in the European Parliament election in May, standing as a candidate for public office for the first time since being found guilty of tax fraud in 2013. An Italian court last year lifted a ban on Berlusconi holding public office, which had been imposed in 2013 after he received a four-year sentence for tax fraud, though he never spent time in prison. Berlusconi will be standing for the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), which Forza Italia (Berlusconi’s party) is a member of. Antonio Tajani, also an Italian politician who’s serving as the President of the EU Parliament and a member of the EPP, congratulated Berlusconi in a tweet.,,

EU imposes sanctions following Skripals’ poisoning: European Union ambassadors have agreed to impose sanctions on nine individuals and one entity accused of chemical weapons attacks, including two Russian men blamed for poisoning former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain. The travel bans and asset freezes, which will also hit two other Russians and five Syrians, are set to be approved by EU foreign ministers at their regular monthly meeting in Brussels on Monday. Diplomats said Britain put forward the names of two Russian men, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, charging that they attempted to murder Skripal and his daughter Yulia by spraying a chemical weapon on Skripal’s front door in the English city of Salisbury last March.

Facebook removes fake accounts linked to Russia: Facebook said Thursday it took down two large-scale disinformation operations linked to Russian state actors and operating across Eastern and Central Europe. The largest network was linked to Russian state news agency „Sputnik“, the tech giant said. The Russian media organisation coordinated a total of 289 pages and 75 accounts on the platform, followed by around 790,000 Facebook users. These pages were all designed to make themselves look like independent news pages, but were in fact linked to „Sputnik“. The fake Facebook pages also posted announcements for roughly 190 events. Facebook couldn’t say whether any of the events had taken place.,,

Weedkiller: Researchers accuse German authority of plagiarism in glyphosate review
EU Parliament: Member states jeopardising the rule of law will risk losing EU funds


People value the euro more than ever before.
Eurogroup President MarioCenteno believes that the the euro has gained strength.


Turkey deports Dutch journalist: Turkish authorities deported Ans Boersma, a correspondent for Dutch newspaper „Het Financieele Dagblad“, on Thursday, the paper and Turkish sources confirmed. Dutch prosecution spokeswoman Jeichien de Graaff confirmed that Boersma, who was put on a plane back to the Netherlands, was a person of interest in an ongoing investigation into militant activity. She is not personally believed to have been involved in a terrorist crime, but rather someone relevant to a wider investigation into several suspects, de Graaff said. The Dutch national had been reporting for the financial paper from Istanbul since early 2017 and only received her 2019 accreditation last week. Turkish officials detained the reporter while she was visiting the local immigration office to extend her visa.,

Macron’s former security aide in custody: A former security aide to French President Emmanuel Macron has been placed in custody as part of an investigation into his use of diplomatic passports. The Paris prosecutor’s office said a preliminary inquiry had been opened into Alexandre Benalla’s alleged possession of two passports. Benalla also used a fake document with the letterhead of the President’s chief of staff to request his second service passport. Benalla was sacked by Macron after video emerged of him beating protesters in Paris. He was placed under investigation for assault and usurping the functions of a police officer over the incident, which happened during May Day demonstrations.,

Greek police used batons against teachers: Thousands of public school teachers joined a rally in central Athens on Thursday protesting the Education Ministry’s proposed law on a new hiring system for teachers. The proposed legislation is scheduled to be put to a vote on Thursday in the Greek Parliament. The protestors demanded the withdrawal of the legislation, which they believe would be unfair to teachers who have years of experience. Greek police used batons and tear gas to stop a group of teachers trying to enter the parliament in Athens.,

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Putin welcomed by embattled ally in Serbia: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to Serbia was held with pomp and circumstance on Thursday, as the Russian leader sought to boost Moscow’s influence in the Balkans, while his Serbian counterpart sought to deflect from anti-government protests. Putin’s visit comes amid a series of large-scale protests against Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade. The two presidents will discuss the expansion of their countries‘ military cooperation, as well as sign 21 economic development agreements, including Serbia’s connection to the Russian-Turkish gas pipeline „Turkish Stream“. Affection for Russia in Serbia has been fueled by the Kremlin’s refusal to recognise the independence of Kosovo, a former Serbian province that unilaterally declared independence in 2008.,,

Germany: Parliament president Schäuble to men: Do more chores
Football Leaks: Suspected hacker detained in Hungary
UK: New Zealand asks unruly British tourists to leave

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Resistance against autocrats is rising: The global tide of populism is being reversed as protesters, politicians and international organisations confront autocratic leaders, NGO Human Rights Watch said Thursday. In Europe, support for rights took many forms, on the streets and in institutions. A high point for the EU came in September, when the EU Parliament responded to Hungarian leader Victor Orban’s increasingly authoritarian rule by voting to launch a process that could end with political sanctions under article 7 of the EU Treaty. The report also pointed out that leaders in some EU states used migration to stoke fear, justify abusive policies, and block meaningful reform last year, even as arrivals at borders decreased.,,



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