Wednesday, 16 January 2019: Holyrood to launch inquiry into Salmond row, EU leaders dismayed after May’s Brexit defeat, EU to end national vetoes on taxation, Conflict between ECB and Italy


Holyrood to launch inquiry into Salmond row: MSPs are to launch a special inquiry into the Scottish government’s handling of a botched investigation into claims of sexual harassment against Alex Salmond after the case collapsed in court last week. Party leaders agreed to set up a cross-party committee, backed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, after a bitter row erupted over her private meetings with Salmond in which the government investigation was discussed. The controversy deepened on Tuesday as further questions were raised about the role of Sturgeon’s chief of staff, Liz Lloyd. It emerged that she initiated contacts with Salmond’s camp that led to the first meeting between him and Sturgeon at the first minister’s home on 2 April 2018.

MP Onasanya considering appeal against conviction: MP Fiona Onasanya, who was found guilty of repeatedly lying to avoid a speeding ticket, has until Wednesday afternoon to appeal against her conviction. The former Labour whip, who sits in the Commons as an independent, has been considering whether to try to overturn last month’s Old Bailey verdict for perverting the course of justice, sources said. Onasanya has pledged to continue as an MP for as long as possible despite being urged by her former Labour colleagues and constituents to stand down. The date for her sentencing has yet to be decided, the Old Bailey said.

Redbridge mayor-elect withdraws over wife’s conviction: The mayor-elect of an east London council has withdrawn his nomination after it was revealed that his wife was involved in the killing of a TV executive. Varinder Singh Bola was announced last week as mayor-elect of the London borough of Redbridge. However, he said on Tuesday he would not assume the ceremonial role after his wife’s criminal past was reported in the media. Mundill Mahil, who married Singh Bola in 2016, was given a three-year jail sentence in 2012 for luring 21-year-old Gagandip Singh to her Brighton flat, where he was attacked by another man, tied up and left to die in a burning car.

Legislation: Upskirting to be crime after Lords back bill
Electoral Commission: Labour fined £12,500 over donation declaration failure


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EU leaders dismayed after May’s Brexit defeat: European Union leaders expressed dismay and regret on Tuesday after the British parliament rejected a Brexit divorce deal. European Council President Donald Tusk made a thinly veiled call for the UK to stay in the EU, suggesting that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s historic loss in parliament left a deal looking impossible. The EU’s chief executive, the EU Parliament Brexit negotiator and a host of prime ministers called on London for ideas on what to do now to stop Britain crashing out of the bloc with no deal on 29 March. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was engaged in late night talks with MEPs after the vote, but sources said Brussels would wait until after the weekend, giving British MPs time to coalesce around a clear plan, before engaging in substantive talks. French President Emmanuel Macron said Britain would be the biggest loser if it crashed out of the EU without a deal. The Spanish government said it still hoped the deal would win approval, adding that a no-deal exit would be catastrophic for the UK. The leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right CDU party, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said a hard Brexit would be the worst of all options. UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion of no confidence in the British government which will be held on Wednesday.,,

EU to end national vetoes on taxation: European Union decisions on taxation require unanimity among governments, according to EU treaties. However, the EU Commission is preparing to present a proposal that would roll back the tax-levying powers of the EU’s individual national governments. The Commission wants to extend majority voting to all EU tax policies by the end of 2020, which would curb the power of a national government to veto a tax ruling by Brussels. Ireland, Luxembourg, and Malta have all come under intense scrutiny by the Commission’s Competition Department as their selective tax regimes have benefited major retail and tech giants including Nike, Amazon, Apple, and McDonald’s. The Commission’s proposal says that the current system of tax competition has done little to halt the practice of some of the bloc’s members to under tax of cross-border industries while overtaxing less mobile areas such as labour income and consumption, effectively leaving most of the financial burden to fall on workers, consumers and domestic businesses.,

Conflict between ECB and Italy: Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini on Tuesday accused the European Central Bank of attacking Italy’s banking system, saying its request for local lenders to put aside more money to cover impaired loans could cost the country billions. Salvini said the ECB move showed that the EU’s banking union was creating instability and said more transparency was needed to dispel any suspicion the central bank was politically motivated. Earlier on Tuesday, a source told Reuters the ECB would give the banks it supervises a target date to fully provision for all of their bad debt, existing and new. The move spooked Italian lenders because many hoped the ECB would be more flexible.

Criticism of French right-wing populists‘ election campaign: The launch of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s campaign for the European election has been severely criticised by members of the EU Parliament. Some of them took issue with Le Pen’s decidedly anti-European stance. Jo Leinen, a Social Democrat from Germany, warned that it was a huge misuse of parliament’s privileges and capacities by those who don’t want Europe. Green MEP Rebecca Harms said it was wrong to tell people hysterically that the European Union needed to change radically. Le Pen hopes the EU vote will advance a redrawing of France’s political map.

Tense relations between China and Canada: China has expressed its strong dissatisfaction with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday over his criticism of a death sentence given to a Canadian accused of drug smuggling at a retrial that followed a chilling of relations over the arrest of a senior Chinese technology executive. Trudeau had told CTV News that the ruling was of extreme concern to his government, as it should be to all international friends and allies. Canada’s foreign ministry issued a travel warning late Monday to its citizens in China over the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws. China was strongly dissatisfied with Trudeau’s remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua said Tuesday. Trudeau should respect the rule of law and China’s judicial sovereignty. Her comments are the latest sign of a sharp cooling of China-Canada ties since Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, on 1 December at the request of the United States.,

EU Parliament President Tajani: EU Parliament’s radio studio to be named after slain reporters
Automated mobility: MEPs call for safety and liability rules for driverless cars


Time is almost up.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged the UK to clarify its intentions after Theresa May’s Brexit deal was rejected by British MPs.,


Macron launches national debate: The day of French President Emmanuel Macron’s three-month national debate got off to a rocky start after he said that he would like to put more responsibility on people struggling with poverty because there were those who did well and some of them just „muck about“. Macron was immediately criticised by political opponents for the remarks, which critics said were disparaging to the poor. Macron on Tuesday launched the national debate to address mounting discontent with his government. French citizens will be able to reply to the consultation online and in French municipalities until 15 March. The consultation will focus on four key themes: Taxation, the ecological transition, the structure of the state, and public services, as well as broader questions on subjects such as democracy and citizenship. It is Macron’s response to the „Yellow Vests“ protests, which were sparked by fuel tax hikes and have entered their ninth week.,

Protests against hatred in Poland: Residents took part in vigils after the stabbing of Gdansk mayor Pawel Adamowicz on stage at charity concert. Tens of thousands of people marched in Polish cities to protest against political hatred. After the announcement of the mayor’s death on Monday, thousands of people gathered at the statue of Neptune in the city’s Long Market, also home to city hall, where Adamowicz served for more than 20 years. Some on the Polish right have accused their liberal opponents of politicising the murder by attributing political motives to the killing, pointing to claims that the suspect had mental health problems and a criminal record.,

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Anti-terrorist raid in Barcelona: The Catalan regional police service, Mossos d’Esquadra, has arrested a least 17 people who are believed to be linked to a jihadist cell based in and around Barcelona. The arrests, made during a raid, are part of a year-long counter-terrorism investigation called “Operation Alexandra”, which gathered information on terrorist activity in Barcelona and the town of Igualada, located 70 km away from the Catalan capital. In 2017, a van drove into pedestrians on Barcelona’s main tourist street, Las Ramblas, which killed 14 people and injured over 130.

Spain: NGO stopped from operating in Mediterranean Sea
Macedonia: Albanian designated Macedonia’s second official language
Finland: How does Finland handle radioactive waste? By burying it

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German unionist Susanne Neumann has died: She made a name for herself with her passionate criticism of the SPD party in Germany: The quick-witted trade unionist and former cleaning lady Susanne Neumann has died. She succumbed to cancer on Sunday evening at the age of 59, said the district association Emscher-Lippe-Aa of the industrial union Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt. Neumann was an active member of the association until recently. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote on Twitter that Neumann was a courageous and dedicated campaigner for social justice and close to many people’s hearts.



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