Tuesday, 21 May 2019: Conservative MPs launch rival campaign groups, All far-right ministers leave Austrian government after video scandal, Google cuts ties with Huawei, Ukraine’s new president takes office


Conservative MPs launch rival campaign groups: Two groups of Tory MPs have launched campaign groups aimed at shaping the future direction of their party. Former cabinet minister Esther McVey launched Blue Collar Conservatism. The movement aims to target working-class voters by promising to slash the overseas aid budget and give the money saved to schools and police. McVey tore into her party’s record, saying Conservative grassroots were demoralised due to Prime Minister Theresa May’s failure to deliver Brexit. Later in the day, McVey’s successor in the work and pensions job, Amber Rudd, led a push from the centrist, remain-minded wing of the Conservatives for their views to be heard, notably in rejecting a no-deal Brexit. The One Nation Conservative Caucus has said it expects to have a say in whoever wins the Tory leadership race. The group is reportedly aiming to block any candidate who backs a no-deal Brexit. The expected demise of May’s Brexit plan has sparked open feuding over what comes next. Chancellor Philip Hammond has argued that proponents of a no-deal Brexit were betraying the referendum result. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said MPs should back the withdrawal agreement bill no matter the details they want in a future relationship.
bbc.com, theguardian.com, independent.co.uk (Conservatives); theguardian.com (Hammond); bbc.com (Hancock)

Tory party suspends Lord Heseltine for backing Lib Dems: The veteran Conservative politician Lord Heseltine has had the whip removed after saying he will vote for the Lib Dems in Thursday’s European elections. The Tory grandee and former deputy prime minister, who sits in the upper chamber of parliament, said he would not back the Tories because of the party’s pro-Brexit stance. He told BBC 5 live that he was lending his support to the Lib Dem candidate in his area as he was not prepared to indulge in „this act of national sacrifice“ by voting for Brexit. A Tory Party spokesperson said the peer’s views on European matters were longstanding and sincerely held. But he added that endorsing another party was not compatible with taking the Conservative whip in parliament.
bbc.com, theguardian.com

Javid announces overhaul of espionage and treason laws: Home Secretary Sajid Javid has revealed plans to publish a new espionage bill to tackle increased hostile state activity from countries including but not limited to Russia. Foreign spies in the UK might have to add their names to a register under the new bill. Syria and parts of west Africa could be designated as banned countries, with Britons who travelled there breaking the law. A register would act as a deterrent to spying and make it easier to take action against those involved. Javid said officials would also examine treason laws to see whether the legislation could be updated to include British nationals who operate on behalf of a hostile nation. He said the need to refresh the legislation evolved from discussions following the Salisbury poisoning attack last year, which the UK government alleges was directed by the Russian state.
bbc.com, theguardian.com

Foreign policy: UK to appoint first human rights ambassador theguardian.com
Defence policy: Mordaunt pledges to review internal Ministry of Defence torture guidance theguardian.com


politjobs.ukAssociation of Directors of Children’s Services seeks Policy Officer *** The Royal Society seeks Senior Policy Adviser (Education) *** ITV Cymru Wales seeks Public Affairs Manager *** Independent Age seeks Public Affairs Officer *** Dogs Trust seeks European Policy Advisor (Publish your job ad)


All far-right ministers leave Austrian government after video scandal: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Monday called on the president to fire Interior Minister Herbert Kickl of the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), triggering an announcement from the FPÖ that it was withdrawing the rest of its ministers in solidarity. The move toward ousting Kickl will have serious consequences for the Austrian government’s ability to rule, as the departure of the FPÖ ministers will leave Kurz without people in key portfolios. Kurz had broken up his party’s governing coalition with the FPÖ and called snap elections amid a scandal caused by the emergence of a video showing now ex-Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the FPÖ offering lucrative business deals to a woman posing as a Russian oligarch’s niece. It is not known who recorded the video published on Friday. Neither is it clear who set up the meeting.
dw.com, bbc.com

Google cuts ties with Huawei: Google is restricting Huawei’s access to its Android operating system and apps after the US government blacklisted Huawei. It means the Chinese tech firm can no longer license Google’s proprietary Android operating system and other services that it offers. Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android. Google is also limiting access to popular applications like Maps, Gmail and the Google Play store in new handsets made by Huawei. Google said consumers who already own Huawei smartphones will be largely unaffected for now. Washington has placed Huawei on a list of foreign firms deemed to undermine American national security or foreign policy interests. Listed companies are barred from receiving components and software unless the trade is licensed.
cnn.com, cnbc.com, nytimes.com

Iran increases uranium production: Iran has increased by fourfold the rate of production of low enriched uranium, an official in Natanz nuclear facility was cited as saying by Tasnim news agency on Monday, a week after Iran officially stopped some commitments under an international nuclear accord. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed US President Donald Trump’s „genocidal taunts“ and warned him not to threaten the country. Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham said Monday that he believes Iran is behind recent attacks on pipelines and ships around the Middle East, and warned that Tehran should expect an overwhelming military response if it harms American personnel and interests in the region.
reuters.com (Uranium); bbc.com (Zarif); politico.com (Graham)

More flights at cheaper prices: China and EU sign landmark aviation deals reuters.com
European election: Liberal leader Verhofstadt challenges Italian Interior Minister Salvini to EU debate politico.eu
EU accession: Though not a member, Serbia eyes European election carefully euractiv.com


The capabilities that we put on the scales are a contribution so that others know we are serious about defending our territory.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has anounced another increase in defence spending.


Ukraine’s new president takes office: Ukraine now has a new president, as Volodymyr Zelenskiy was sworn into office on Monday — and the famous comedian immediately said one of his first actions will be to dissolve parliament. Fulfilling a campaign promise, Zelenskiy announced a snap election to choose new lawmakers. He called on legislators to adopt anti-corruption laws, including measures that would strip legislators of their immunity from prosecution and increase transparency. Zelenskiy urged ministers and government officials to resign if they aren’t willing to work for change. In addition to fighting corruption, Zelenskiy has pledged to end the bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine, where government troops have been fighting Russia-backed separatists for five years.
npr.org, time.com

Dubious Trump deals cause problems for Deutsche Bank: The German-based Deutsche Bank on Monday denied a report by „The New York Times“ that alleged anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank in 2016 and 2017 recommended multiple transactions involving entities controlled by US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog. The article said executives at the bank rejected their employees‘ advice and the reports were never filed with the government. Trump lashed out at „The New York Times“ on Monday, disputing the paper’s reporting on his relationship with Deutsche Bank and launching into a broader criticism of the news media.
dw.com, politico.com, nytimes.com

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Italy seizes migrant rescue vessel: Italian prosecutors have impounded the rescue ship „Sea-Watch 3“ for breaching immigration rules despite government attempts to block the ship from reaching an Italian port. The ship rescued 65 migrants off the coast of Libya last week. The remaining migrants disembarked at Lampedusa on Sunday evening as part of the order to seize the ship. The head of the German „Sea-Watch 3“ mission, Philipp Hahn, called the probationary confiscation of the vessel outrageous and said the group broke no laws. The German government warned against the stigmatisation and criminalisation of maritime rescue services in the Mediterranean Sea, but also called on rescuers to comply with the law.
dw.com, washingtonpost.com

Sweden: Authorities request detention order for WikiLeaks founder Assange politico.com
Catalonia: Five Catalan separatist leaders escorted to Spanish parliament nytimes.com
France: Eiffel Tower closes down after man scales the monument cbsnews.com


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politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)


Farage hit with milkshake while campaigning: British politician Nigel Farage was hit with a milkshake while election campaigning on Monday. The Brexit party leader appeared to be furious after the incident and was heard to mutter, “it’s a complete failure, you could have spotted that a mile off” as his security team led him away. Farage blamed the attack on those who wanted to remain in the EU. The Electoral Commission will visit the offices of Farage’s Brexit Party to review how it receives funding. Ex-PM Gordon Brown has accused the party of receiving a large amount of money via small undeclared, untraceable payments.
time.com, theguardian.com (Milkshake); bbc.com (Funding)



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