Monday, 26 August 2019: Johnson says Britain can easily cope with no-deal Brexit, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif meets Macron in Biarritz, G7 against Russia’s readmission, UK and US plan trade deal


Johnson says Britain can easily cope with no-deal Brexit: Britain could easily cope with a no-deal Brexit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed at the G7 summit. Johnson said preparations for no deal were being ramped up to help secure an agreement. In a BBC interview, he said it all depended on the European partners. Former Chancellor Philip Hammond has written to Johnson to demand an apology from the prime minster for suggestions that he or other ministers in the previous government could have been behind the leaking of a dossier detailing Britain’s plans for a no-deal Brexit. The British government is planning to cut fuel duty for the first time in eight years in a possible emergency October budget, the “Sunday Times” newspaper reported., (Johnson); (Hammond); (Fuel duty)

Johnson defends Prince Andrew in light of Epstein controversy: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the Duke of York after he was criticised for spending time with the paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein after his release from prison. Prince Andrew was pictured with his former friend in 2010 after Epstein had served an 18-month sentence for prostituting minors. Prince Andrew issued a lengthy statement on Saturday about his relationship with Epstein, who committed suicide in a Manhattan jail earlier this month while being held on sex-trafficking charges. Asked during media interviews at the G7 summit whether he had confidence in Andrew, Johnson told ITV News that he had worked with Prince Andrew and had seen the good he did for UK business overseas.,

Johnson reignites row over who should fund free TV licences: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reignited the row over who should fund free TV licences for the over-75s. He signalled that his government will not reverse policy by stepping in to subsidise the benefit, despite the Conservatives’ promise in the 2017 manifesto that it would be protected. Responsibility for funding free TV licences for the over-75s is being handed over to the BBC in June next year, under a deal struck with the previous government in 2015.

Corbyn as unity PM: Labour frontbencher Gardiner accuses Lib Dem leader Swinson of wanting to drag Queen into political crisis
Women’s rights: Workplaces must protect women going through menopause, say MPs


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Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif meets Macron in Biarritz: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a surprise appearance at the G7 summit in the French city of Biarritz on Sunday, where he met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and French President Emmanuel Macron. A senior French diplomat confirmed that Zarif had been invited for talks as part of Macron’s diplomatic initiative aimed at defusing tensions in the Gulf and reviving diplomacy with Iran. The diplomat said Zarif was not formally a guest of the G7 but that Macron had informed other leaders at the summit, including US President Donald Trump. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Zarif’s visit was a parallel event in the same spot and not part of the summit, but that it was worth taking any chance to de-escalate tensions with Iran in the current situation. Israel attacked targets near the Syrian capital of Damascus late Saturday in what it said was a successful operation to thwart a drone strike by Iran. The Iranian tanker “Adrian Darya 1” is back on the move six weeks after being seized off the coast of Gibraltar. An Iranian journalist travelling with Zarif’s delegation has requested asylum in Sweden.,, (Zarif); (Israel); (Tanker); (Asylum)

G7 against Russia’s readmission: US President Donald Trump rowed with fellow G7 leaders over his demand that Russia be readmitted to the group of major industrialised democracies. The country was kicked out of the group over its continuing hostilities in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. Trump said it was certainly possible that he would invite Russian President Vladimir Putin as a guest to next year’s G7 summit in the United States. The UK, Germany, France, and Canada all dismissed the idea of re-introducing Russia as a full member, unless Putin makes concessions on the hostilities in Ukraine. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested new talks in the Normandy format to solve the Ukraine crisis. France and Germany will offer aid, with the support of the G7, to the countries of the Sahel zone to help them combat instability and terrorism. G7 leaders have also agreed on how to help fight the Amazon forest fires and try to repair the devastation.,, (Russia); (Merkel); (Sahel); (Amazon)

Violence and arrests at G7 protests: At least 68 demonstrators were arrested during protests against the G7 summit on Saturday. French police used tear gas and water cannon to break up protesters in the southern city of Bayonne. A few protesters threw rocks at police. A larger, peaceful march took place in the French coastal town of Hendaye. Hundreds of climate activists also marched in south-western France carrying portraits of President Emmanuel Macron that they had stolen from town halls. Demonstrators said they wanted to highlight the gap between the president’s official pledge to combat global heating and insufficient government action to lower emissions.,,,

UK and US plan trade deal: US President Donald Trump has promised a large trade deal with the UK. Speaking to reporters after a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Trump said a deal with Britain could happen quickly. Johnson said the US must open up its markets if a post-Brexit trade deal is to be agreed. “The Observer” has reported that Johnson asked his attorney general whether parliament can be shut down for five weeks in what appears to be an attempt to stop lawmakers forcing a further extension to Brexit. A government spokesperson denied the report. Johnson has said the £39bn Brexit divorce bill would not strictly speaking be owed to the EU in full in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Trump has downplayed the seriousness of North Korea’s launch of short-range ballistic missiles over the weekend. (Trade deal); (Parliament closure); (Divorce bill); (North Korea)

US and UK agree on trade deal: The US and Japan have agreed in principle on a trade deal under which Japan will cut tariffs on US beef, pork and other agricultural products, while continuing to face levies on its own auto exports. US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said they hoped to sign the agreement at the United Nations General Assembly in New York next month. They asked aides to accelerate negotiations over unfinished aspects of the deal in order to have a final agreement prepared in time. The US had agreed a trade deal with Japan as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but Trump withdrew from that pact on his third day in office. Meanwhile, Trump has offered contradictory signals about his trade war with China., (Japan); (China)

EU Commission: Belgium picks Foreign Minister Didier Reynders to be EU commissioner
Hong Kong protests: Police officer fires shot


Trade wars will lead to recession while trade deals will boost the economy.
European Council President Donald Tusk has warned that escalating trade tensions between US President Donald Trump and other world leaders risk throwing the world into a recession.


Stabbing at Greek refugee camp: A teenage asylum seeker was killed and two others injured in a fight at the overcrowded Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. A 15-year-old Afghan boy attacked the others, also said to be from Afghanistan, with a knife, the state agency ANA reported. The UN refugee agency UNHCR called on the Greek government to urgently transfer migrant youths to safe areas. UNHCR representative in Greece Philippe Leclerc said Moria was not the place for children who were alone and have faced profound trauma – they need special care in designated shelters.,

Deutsche Bank and UBS held talks on banking alliance: Germany’s Deutsche Bank and the Swiss UBS Group are exploring ways to combine their businesses, including talks as recently as mid-June to form an alliance of investment-banking operations, according to people familiar with the discussions. A deal could not be reached as the two lenders were not able to sort out issues including structuring and allocating capital, the “Wall Street Journal” reported. Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the report.,

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Talks on new Italian government hit stumbling block: Talks between Italy’s Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party (PD) to form a new government have hit a stumbling block over the PD’s opposition to Giuseppe Conte being reinstated as prime minister. PD chief Nicola Zingaretti said any new government would have to mark a break with the past, including appointing a new leader. He called for another meeting with the Five Star Movement this Monday.

France: Paris celebrates 75th anniversary of liberation from Nazis
Denmark: Government wants to ban free plastic bags
Germany: Protesters march against racism in Dresden
Spain: Mystery bomb discovery sparks beach evacuation in Barcelona
UK: 3D scanners to reduce queues at airports

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Iranian women allowed to watch football game: Female football fans will be allowed to attend a men’s football World Cub qualifying match in Iran in October, Deputy Sports Minister Jamshid Taghizadeh announced on Sunday. Iranian women have been banned from stadiums when men’s teams are playing since the Islamic revolution in 1979. FIFA had written to the Iranian Football Federation in June asking it to provide a timeline toward women being able to buy tickets for the qualifiers, or face consequences.


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