Tuesday, 05 November 2019: Sir Lindsay Hoyle elected Speaker of House of Commons, EU denies subsidies were used for state corruption, EU investigates French supermarkets for possible collusion, Dutch bomb killed 70 civilians in Iraq


Sir Lindsay Hoyle elected Speaker of House of Commons: Labour MP and deputy Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has been elected as the new Commons Speaker. Hoyle, who had been deputy speaker since 2010, was elected by lawmakers after four rounds of voting via secret ballot. He will take over from John Bercow, who stepped down at the end of October, after a decade in the role. Bercow had taken an active role as Speaker, which resulted in bitter division between those who saw him as an ally to backbench MPs, and others who criticised him for allowing the political opposition to take control of business in the House of Commons. Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated Hoyle on his election and praised all the other candidates in an extremely strong field. Seven candidates were originally in the running to succeed Bercow, including former minister and deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman and former Labour minister Meg Hillier.
bbc.com, uk.reuters.com, cnn.com

Russian meddling in UK politics: A report from the intelligence and security committee on alleged Russian interference in UK democracy will not be published until after the election. It has gone through the standard security clearance process, but sources say No 10 is stalling on releasing it. The committee’s chairman, Dominic Grieve, called the decision jaw dropping, saying no reason for the refusal had been given, while Labour and Scottish National party politicians accused No 10 of refusing to recognise the scale of Russian meddling. Ex-terrorism watchdog Lord Anderson said any further delay would invite suspicion of the government’s motives in the run-up to next month’s election.
bbc.com, theguardian.com

Tories broke pledge on starter homes, says report: Successive Conservative governments have failed to deliver a single new starter home despite promising to build 200,000 by 2020, the National Audit Office (NAO) has found. To date, no such homes have been built because the government has not budgeted for them or activated all of the necessary legislation. The 2015 spending review set aside £2.3bn to support the delivery of the first 60,000 properties under the scheme. But auditors said the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) no longer has a budget dedicated to the project.

Home Office: UK terrorism threat downgraded to “substantial” bbc.com
Labour: Party leader Corbyn criticises Johnson’s Brexit plans uk.reuters.com
Brexit party: Party leader Farage says Brexit party to contest more than 600 seats in election theguardian.com
Liberal Democrats: Party leader Swinson sent suspicious package ahead of election uk.reuters.com
Social networking: Facebook bans political ad posted by ex-Downing Street aide bbc.com


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EU denies subsidies were used for state corruption: A report published in the “New York Times” alleged government officials in Hungary and the Czech Republic misused €59 billion in EU farming subsidies. But EU spokesman Daniel Rosario hit back against claims that money meant for farming was used to prop up oligarchs and political patrons in central and eastern Europe, insisting the EU Commission has zero tolerance to fraud and very clear rules for how funds should be managed. Mina Andreeva, spokeswoman for Olaf – the EU anti-fraud office – also denied that it was the EU’s job to ensure farming subsidies were spent correctly. She said the EU was not here to replace national governments and would not do the work for them.
dw.com, nytimes.com

EU investigates French supermarkets for possible collusion: The EU Commission launched a formal investigation on Monday into whether two of France’s biggest supermarkets are in breach of EU competition rules by colluding on sales activities. The Commission wants to find out whether Casino and Intermarche engaged in anticompetitive conduct via a buying alliance they set up in 2014. The investigation will focus on whether the two supermarkets coordinated their activities on the development of their shop networks and their pricing policy for consumers. EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said joint-buying could bring lower prices to consumers for food and personal care brands, but such benefits could disappear quickly if retailers used these alliances to collude on their sales activities.

Dutch bomb killed 70 civilians in Iraq: The Dutch government has admitted involvement in a 2015 airstrike in northern Iraq that killed about 70 people, including Isis fighters and civilians. A bomb dropped by a Dutch F-16 fighter had hit an alleged terrorist bomb factory in Hawija. After the raid, there were a number of secondary and larger explosions that could not have been anticipated from earlier strikes on similar targets, the Dutch Defence Ministry said in a letter to parliament on Monday. This caused the destruction of a large number of other buildings and killed several innocent residents.

Pirates kidnap crew from Greek boat: Within two days, pirates off the west coast of Africa attacked two tankers and seized several crew members. On Monday, pirates attacked a Greek oil tanker off the coast of Togo and fled after taking four crew members as hostages. The attack followed the abduction by pirates of nine Filipino crew members from a Norwegian-flagged boat off the coast of neighbouring Benin on Saturday.

China: EU and China strike deal to protect gourmet food names politico.eu
EU Commission: Von der Leyen sticks to 1 December for start date of new EU Commission handelsblatt.com


Romanian government wins confidence vote: The centrist minority government of Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban won a vote of confidence in parliament on Monday. The win means the government can embark upon the process of nominating the country’s EU commissioner. Orban said he will propose a nomination after speaking with the country’s president Klaus Iohannis. The new EU Commission team had been due to take over on 1 November, but the political tug-of-war in Romania that prevented the country from nominating a commissioner risked pushing the start date into December. The Social Democrat government of Viorica Dancila collapsed last month after losing a no-confidence vote in parliament.
reuters.com, euronews.com

41 migrants found in truck in Greece: Greek police found 41 people alive in the back of a refrigerated truck during a routine highway check in northern Greece, officials said Monday. Police had stopped the truck near the city of Xanthi for a routine check, arresting the driver and taking him and the migrants, mostly Afghans, to a nearby police station for identification. At least a third were found to have trouble breathing, and seven were rushed to a nearby hospital with respiratory problems.
cnn.com, theguardian.com

Separatists protest Spanish royals’ visit: On Monday, thousands of Catalan demonstrators protested against a visit by the Spanish royal family to Barcelona, the capital of the region that has been hit by weeks of separatist demonstrations. Some protesters burned pictures of the king and threw paint at riot police. Waving Catalan independence flags, some of the demonstrators shouted at attendees of the Princess of Girona young talent awards ceremony in Barcelona as they tried to reach a police checkpoint, pushing at least one of them, and forcing a few to turn back and try to find another entrance.

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Germany to ban homophobic conversion therapy: German Health Minister Jens Spahn unveiled a draft law on Monday that largely bans homophobic conversion therapies for LGBT+ people. The practice will be completely banned for all youths under the age of 18. The law stops short of a complete ban, however, with consenting adults allowed to seek treatment for their sexuality. However, the practice would no longer be legal if the person ended up consenting to the therapy after being deceived, coerced or threatened. Spahn said these conversion therapies often caused serious physical and mental suffering, making people sick instead of healthy.

Merkel vows to fight right-wing extremism: At a memorial to victims of neo-Nazi terrorism, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the government must prevent a resurgence of such hatred. As a nation, Germany has to ensure that these things don’t repeat themselves, Merkel told reporters in the eastern German town of Zwickau, where a new memorial in honour of the victims of the right-wing extremist cell National Socialist Underground (NSU) was erected. Her comments came shortly after several politicians received death threats from the far-right. Just across the street from the memorial site, around 20 people protested against Merkel and the memorial. Such a scene underscored an urgent need for a public reckoning with right-wing acts and ideologies, said Michael Kretschmer, state premier of Saxony. He said the NSU’s racially motivated attacks still resonated today.

Czech Republic: Police train for reintroduction of border checks handelsblatt.com
France: Government opts for dual system to fight youth unemployment zdf.de
Italy: ArcelorMittal to hand Ilva plant back to Italian state over legal row reuters.com


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Berlin bans fake soldiers at Checkpoint Charlie: Authorities in the German capital have barred reenactors from posing for tourist photos at the iconic Checkpoint Charlie, the US control station that marked the crossing point between East and West Berlin. Some reenactors had pressured tourists — and at times even followed them — if they refused to pay a fee to take a photo. Police had consequently requested Berlin’s Civil Enforcement Office formally withdraw their license to perform in public.


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