Tuesday, 18 June 2019: London mayor Khan responds to Trump, EU warns against blaming Iran for oil tanker attacks, New European fighter jet planned, EU complains about trade barriers


London mayor Khan responds to Trump: London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called US President Donald Trump a poster boy for racists after Trump hit out at him over London’s knife crime. Speaking in central London on Monday, Khan said it was remarkable that the American president was amplifying the tweets of a far-right activist. Trump had obviously become a poster boy for racists around the world. The original post had called the capital „Stab-City“, alongside screenshots of BBC News articles detailing the violence. Foreign Secretary and Tory leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt said he 150% agreed with Trump. He said Trump had his „own style“, but he backed the president’s stance on Khan. Hunt said the mayor had completely failed to tackle knife crime in London and had spent more time on politics than the actual business of making Londoners safer.

Conservative candidates face questions on Trump and Brexit: Tory leadership contenders have urged US President Donald Trump not to interfere in UK affairs amid a row over his latest criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan. The candidates were asked about Trump’s comments at a private hustings in parliament – where they were also quizzed by journalists about their Brexit policy and personal beliefs. Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson skipped the event, having also missed Sunday’s Channel 4 TV debate. Michael Gove said if he became prime minister he would try to win changes to a Brexit deal by opening talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. Dominic Raab defended his backing for the UK to leave the EU on 31 October with or without a deal – saying the biggest risk was the paralysing uncertainty currently afflicting the UK. Rory Stewart said he believed Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal could be the basis of a moderate, pragmatic Brexit despite being rejected by MPs three times.
bbc.com, uk.reuters.com

Police look into claims of irregularities at Peterborough byelection: Police are investigating five allegations of electoral irregularities related to the Peterborough byelection, which Labour won by 683 votes. Cambridgeshire Police said it was looking into allegations including bribery, corruption, a breach of the privacy of the vote and postal vote issues. Peterborough City Council said it was standard practice to report concerns. Lisa Forbes was elected as the city’s MP after the former Labour incumbent Fiona Onasanya was forced out after being jailed for lying about speeding. On election night, Brexit party sources were briefing that they believed that there were irregularities surrounding the city’s Asian community.
theguardian.com, bbc.com

Labour’s deputy leader Watson: Another Brexit referendum is the least worst option bbc.com
Hammond: Chancellor aware of risks over trading with China but presses on theguardian.com
Russia: UK and Russia consider May-Putin meeting to thaw relations theguardian.com
Stella Creasy: MPs‘ standards authority does not recognise maternity leave theguardian.com


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EU warns against blaming Iran for oil tanker attacks: Iran announced Monday that it will surpass the internationally agreed limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpiles in ten days. A spokesperson for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation said that the country would increase enrichment levels to 20% — significantly closer to weapons-grade material — for use in local reactors. Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers remained unconvinced by US allegations that Iran was behind last week’s attack on two Gulf tankers. There was strong support among EU countries for an independent UN investigation and calls for more evidence. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged EU diplomats ahead of a monthly meeting not to jump to conclusions. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his country hadn’t yet made up its mind yet about who was behind the alleged attacks in the Gulf.
cnbc.com, independent.co.uk, dw.com

New European fighter jet planned: Germany, France and Spain have agreed on a framework for the joint construction of Europe’s largest arms project to date, the so-called Future Air Combat System (FCAS). In the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, on the sidelines of the world’s largest air show, defence ministers of the three countries signed the agreement launching a trilateral framework of cooperation to design a next-generation fighter jet. The arrangement will include a joint air combat system that could also control drones and satellites. As yet, no other European nations have come on board despite murmurings of encouragement from Macron’s office. Germany’s opposition Left party criticised the plans, calling it a license to print money for weapons manufacturers.
euractiv.com, dw.com

EU complains about trade barriers: Protectionism across the globe reached a record high last year due to new barriers designed to restrict trade into China and the United States, according to an EU Commission report. The EU said 45 new commercial obstacles were put in place last year by non-EU countries, bringing the total number of such restrictions to a record high of 425 in 59 nations. The curbs cost European business billions of euros a year. Last year, most barriers were erected in China and Algeria, followed by the United States and India. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said there was global trend for increased protectionism, which was worrying. She vowed to fight to keep global markets open and bolster multilateralism.
reuters.com, bloomberg.com

Bullmann concedes race to lead Socialist group: Spanish MEP Iratxe Garcia is poised to take over the leadership of the Socialist group in the EU Parliament after the German incumbent, Udo Bullmann, dropped out of the race rather than face certain defeat. Bullmann conceded to the indisputable new math following the European Parliament election in which Germany’s Social Democrats took a beating at the polls, and the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party scored big gains, making it the largest national delegation in the group. A formal vote on the group leadership is scheduled for Tuesday, but it appears Garcia will stand unopposed.

Poland: European Council President Tusk faces tax probe politico.eu
„Bridge builder“: Juncker honoured with Point Alpha award zdf.de
EU accession: North Macedonia nears accession talks, Albania falling behind euractiv.com


It is a turbulent time for trade politics.
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has criticised an increase in trade barriers.


Austria’s Strache will not take up EU Parliament seat: Austrian far-right veteran Heinz-Christian Strache, who quit as deputy head of the coalition government over a video sting, said Monday he would not take up a European Parliament seat. Strache got enough preferential votes to get a seat in the parliament, but he stepped down as the Freedom Party’s leader last month after German media published secretly filmed footage from a 2017 dinner party in Ibiza at which Strache met a woman posing as a Russian oligarch’s niece. In the footage, Strache appeared to offer to fix state contracts. Anti-corruption prosecutors are investigating Strache on suspicion of breach of trust.
euobserver.com, reuters.com

Puigdemont faces obstacles to claiming EU Parliament seat: Spanish authorities have blocked former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont from taking a step toward claiming his European Parliament seat. Spanish MEPs are required to swear a constitutional oath in the country’s parliament in order to take their seats in the newly elected EU Parliament. But Puigdemont, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium, did not appear in Madrid on Monday because he faces arrest if he returns to Spain due to his role in a push for Catalan independence in 2017.

Spain’s Ciudadanos breaks ties with Manuel Valls: Spain’s liberal Ciudadanos has cut ties with Manuel Valls after the former French prime minister supported the leftist Ada Colau for Barcelona mayor. Valls — who was born in Barcelona, grew up in France and is a French citizen — had himself run for mayor under a common banner with Ciudadanos, but Colau’s party and a separatist party came out on top.

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Irish immigration officers flew back business-class: Garda immigration officers travelled on business class flights while returning home from deporting illegal immigrants out of the country, according to a report by the „Irish Times“. The Department of Justice in Ireland said business class fares were booked while repatriating deportees where it was deemed a security risk for a garda to leave an airport.

Germany: Federal prosecutor to investigate politician’s killing politico.eu


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Accidental cat filter derails press conference: A briefing by a Pakistani politician was broadcast on his party’s official Facebook page Friday, in an attempt to keep constituents in the loop about local issues. But the video attracted attention for an entirely different reason – unbeknown to the politician, a staffer had accidentally left on a cat filter, meaning he appeared with feline ears and whiskers throughout the broadcast. Facebook users watching the video live commented on the gaffe, but Shaukat Yousafzai, a regional minister in northwest Pakistan, carried on unaware of his feline features.
cnn.com, bbc.com



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