Tuesday, 23 July 2019: Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan resigns, Macron announces agreement on refugee distribution, Britain calls for European naval mission, Vanished French submarine found in Mediterranean


Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan resigns: Britain’s Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan has resigned in anticipation of Boris Johnson becoming the next prime minister this week. Duncan revealed to the BBC that he had applied for a debate to test whether Johnson could command a majority, but was turned down by the Speaker. In his resignation letter, Duncan said he was stepping down in order to be free to express his views ahead of the new prime minister taking office. He joins Chancellor Philip Hammond, Digital Minister Margot James and Justice Secretary David Gauke in an exodus of senior conservatives ahead of Johnson’s expected arrival to 10 Downing Street. Meanwhile, Johnson himself has claimed that the 1969 moon landing proves that he will be able to deliver Brexit by 31 October.
politico.eu, theguardian.com (Duncan); independent.co.uk (Johnson)

Lib Dems pick Jo Swinson as leader: The anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats have elected Jo Swinson as their first female leader. A business minister during the 2010-2015 coalition government who has been serving as deputy leader since June 2017, Swinson won the contest with 47,997 votes from the Lib Dem membership. She used her acceptance speech to appeal to disaffected Conservative and Labour MPs to join a party that she said was rising in the polls and ready again to compete for government. After the result was announced to cheers at an event in central London, Swinson paid tribute to Cable, with whom the Lib Dems have tapped into anti-Brexit sentiment and reached their best poll ratings since 2010, performing strongly in the local and European elections.
politico.eu, theguardian.com

Tory MP Elphicke charged with sexual assault: Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service on Monday said it was charging Member of Parliament Charlie Elphicke with three counts of sexual assault. The allegations against Elphicke come from two women, with one count in 2007 and the other two in 2016. Elphicke is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 6 September. Elphicke was suspended from the Conservative party in 2017 after allegations against him were referred to the police. In December last year, the MP was brought back into the fold ahead of a confidence vote in Theresa May. Should Elphicke be convicted, a by-election could be triggered that might see the government’s razor-thin majority further whittled away.
dw.com, bbc.com

Antisemitism: Labour leader Corbyn announces plan to speed up expulsions bbc.com
Zaghari-Ratcliffe: British-Iranian aid worker moved back to jail from hospital ward – husband uk.reuters.com
Huawei: Government decision on 5G rollout delayed bbc.com


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Macron announces agreement on refugee distribution: Fourteen EU member states have agreed to a new solidarity mechanism proposed by Germany and France to allocate migrants across the bloc, French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday. Foreign affairs and interior ministers of the EU had earlier gathered in Paris to discuss immigration and security issues. Macron did not spell out specifics but said the new initiative would be quick and automatic. A source close to the French presidency told “Reuters” that in addition to France and Germany, Finland, Luxemburg, Portugal, Lithuania, Croatia and Ireland had also signalled a clear intention to move forward with a new system. Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, whose country is at the forefront of the migrant influx in Europe, did not take part in the meeting. In a letter to his French counterpart Christophe Castaner, he warned of the effect of decisions solely taken in Paris and Berlin.

Britain calls for European naval mission: Britain called on Monday for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, days after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in the strategic waterway. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt made a point of saying that the maritime protection proposal would not involve contributing European military power to back Washington’s hardline stance against Iran. Meanwhile, Iran claimed on Monday that it had arrested 17 spies who it says were working for the CIA, and sentenced some of them to death. The intelligence ministry said the suspects had been collecting information in the nuclear, military and other sectors. US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied Iran’s claim.
reuters.com, bbc.com (Mission); politico.com (Spies)

Ukraine to enhance customs collaboration with EU to tackle smuggling: The Ukrainian government has adopted new legislation to strengthen customs cooperation with the EU in order to better combat corruption and smuggling, including tobacco products, the Mission of Ukraine to the EU has told “Euractiv”. Since an EU-Ukraine visa-free regime took effect in June 2017, smuggling of goods from Ukraine into the EU has increased.

Hong Kong: Activist calls for help from Europe euractiv.com
Trade: China slaps anti-dumping tax on stainless steel dw.com
Sudan: EU suspends migration control projects amid repression fears dw.com
Drought: France asks EU for early farm aid uk.reuters.com


What we need to intelligently fight climate change is scientific progress and political courage, not apocalyptic gurus.
French Republicans MP Guillaume Larrive has called on MPs in the French parliament to boycott the appearance of Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg on Tuesday.


Ukrainian president Zelenskiy’s party claims absolute majority: President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party has scored some 42% in Ukraine’s parliamentary election, according to preliminary results released by Ukraine’s electoral body on Monday. Zelenskiy’s party also claimed it had an absolute majority on Monday morning. This would allow the party to rule without a coalition. It would be the first time a political party achieved an absolute majority in Ukraine since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Vanished French submarine found in Mediterranean: The French navy announced on Monday that it had located the wreck of a submarine that disappeared in 1968. The wreckage was found by the Norwegian-flagged research vessel Seabed Constructor, 28 miles from the southern French port city of Toulon — and about 7,800 feet underwater. Minerve, as the submarine was called, was last heard from in January 1968. Multiple efforts over the years to locate it have come up empty. But last year, Defence Minister Florence Parly announced a new massive search effort the Minerve, using the latest technology and naval vessels after a renewed campaign from the sailors’ relatives to find the bodies of their loved ones.
dw.com, nytimes.com

Spain’s Sanchez seeks backing to form government: Spain’s far-left Podemos on Monday demanded higher profile government posts, upping the ante on the eve of Socialist Pedro Sanchez’s confirmation vote as prime minister. Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias was still not satisfied with the latest Socialist offer of unspecified minor cabinet posts. He said, however, his party wanted to be in the government and would negotiate further. In a first vote due on Tuesday, Sanchez will need at least 176 votes to be able to return to government. Most observers think he has little chance of getting that.
uk.reuters.com, france24.com

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German left party headquarters evacuated over bomb threat: The left-wing political party “Die Linke” was forced to evacuate its Berlin headquarters on Monday, saying that it had received a bomb threat by email. The search was called off early afternoon Monday, with police giving the all-clear. Police investigators said in March that they had recorded over 100 incidents of threatening letters sent out in early 2019.

German ambassador to Venezuela returns: The German ambassador to Venezuela, Daniel Kriener, has returned to Caracas just over four months after the government forced him out of the South American country. President Nicolas Maduro’s government had removed Kriener from Caracas in March, accusing him of meddling in domestic affairs. The move came after Kriener greeted opposition leader Juan Guaido as he returned from a trip abroad.

Greece: Mitsotakis wins confidence vote in parliament zdf.de
Norway: Schools to address massacre of Utoya faz.net
Portugal: Strong winds reignite wildfires reuters.com
Italy: Major transport strikes across the country handelsblatt.com
Germany: Cities fail to meet demand for living space faz.net


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


McDonald’s apologises to Italy for mafia ad: A burger ad placed in Austria by McDonald’s has drawn strong criticism from Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for associating Italians with the mafia. McDonald’s has been running ads in Austria as part of its campaign, “Italian summer.” The ads, distributed online and on billboards, comes with a slogan “for real mampfiosi.” The term is a play on words combining mafiosi with the colloquial German verb mampfen, or “to munch.”


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