Wednesday, 17 July 2019: EU expected to reject Johnson and Hunt’s backstop plan, Politicians congratulate future EU Commission President von der Leyen, Lagarde resigns as head of IMF, Amazon could face EU antitrust probe


EU expected to reject Johnson and Hunt’s backstop plan: Tory leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt’s Brexit plan to axe the Irish border backstop from the withdrawal agreement will be rejected outright by the European Union. EU sources said it was doomed to failure and if the next prime minister went to Brussels with such a proposal, he would be told in no uncertain terms that it amounted to a declaration of a no-deal Brexit. The British government is concerned that a no-deal Brexit could lead to prison riots over food and medicine shortages, according to a consultancy contract awarded by the Ministry of Justice. Irish finance minister Paschal Donohoe said on Tuesday that the prospect of Britain leaving the EU without a deal was more likely than it had been. Former attorney general Dominic Grieve said the leadership candidates‘ hardening of position on the controversial Irish backstop was significant. The views of Hunt and Johnson expressed at a debate seem to rule out any compromise, the MP added. (EU); (Concerns); (Donohoe); (Grieve)

Michael Gove makes pitch for position in Johnson’s cabinet: Environment Secretary Michael Gove has made a pitch to be in Boris Johnson’s cabinet regardless of whether it pursues a no-deal Brexit and has lavished praise on his former bitter rival who stands on the brink of becoming prime minister. His attempt to bury the hatchet with Johnson, who is likely to enter No 10 next week, comes three years after Gove sank his former friend’s last leadership bid with a stinging character attack. Speaking at Kew Gardens, Gove would not say which of his former leadership rivals he would vote for in the contest but claimed to have deep admiration for them both after watching them in cabinet.

Labour peers criticise Corbyn over handling of antisemitism allegations: More than sixty Labour peers have taken out an advertisement accusing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of having failed the test of leadership over his handling of antisemitism complaints within the party. The peers include more than a dozen former ministers such as Peter Hain, Beverley Hughes and John Reid. It comes amid a backlash within the party about the leadership’s response to a BBC Panorama documentary that aired last week, in which eight former staff members accused Labour of failing to tackle complaints about antisemitism properly and allowing Corbyn’s office to get involved in disputes. Meanwhile, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has pledged that Labour will end in-work poverty within its first full-term if it wins the next election. (Advert); (McDonnell)

Parliament: Domestic Abuse laws to tackle injustice
Apology: Housing Secretary Brokenshire apologised to academic Scruton for sacking him over interview
Immigration: Worried UK employees call for changes to proposed immigration reform
Far right: Now-defunct fringe far-right party Britain First fined over electoral law breaches


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Politicians congratulate future EU Commission President von der Leyen: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has congratulated her long-standing ally Ursula von der Leyen on being confirmed as European Commission president. Merkel hailed the current German defence minister as a committed and convincing European. The chancellor said even though she was losing a long-standing minister, she was gaining a new partner in Brussels. Manfred Weber, who was the EPP nominee for Commission president, and Social Democratic nominee Frans Timmermans congratulated von der Leyen as well, showing that they were not sore losers. Outgoing Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk offered their congratulations as well. Meanwhile, the German Social Democrats‘ rejection of von der Leyen will become an issue in the country’s ruling coalition. CDU chief Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who will replace von der Leyen as German defence minister, accused the social democrats of campaigning against von der Leyen. EU Commission Secretary-General Martin Selmayr has announced that he will leave his post at the end of next week to quell concerns about a German-dominated EU executive.,,

Lagarde resigns as head of IMF: Christine Lagarde has announced that she will step down as managing director of the International Monetary Fund IMF. Lagarde said in a statement Tuesday that she notified the IMF board of her planned departure. She had already suspended her duties after being nominated by EU leaders for the European Central Bank leadership this month. David Lipton will remain acting managing director of the IMF until Lagarde is replaced. Lagarde has been head of the IMF since 2011. If the European Council approves her ECB nomination, she will become the central bank’s first ever female leader, responsible for the euro and the monetary policy of the eurozone.,

Amazon could face EU antitrust probe: Amazon could soon face an antitrust investigation in the EU, according to a report on Tuesday. The investigation itself does not come as a surprise, as EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager had already launched a preliminary probe into Amazon in September and was expected to announce whether a full probe would take place. The preliminary investigation focused on how Amazon uses data on its third-party merchants that sell through Amazon. „Bloomberg“ now reported that Vestager was set to announce an expanded investigation within days.,,

Trump threatens to investigate Google for China ties: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to threaten that his administration would take a look at Google, opening an investigation into the search giant out of concern that it has been breached by the Chinese government. Trump’s comments follow statements made earlier this week by billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel, who said that the FBI and the CIA should investigate Google to see if it has been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence. Google Vice President for Government Affairs & Public Policy, Karan Bhatia, has denied that Google had been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence operatives.,

Trade: EU goods trade gaps with US and China widen
Cutting costs: Ikea is closing its only US factory and moving production to Europe


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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has claimed that the EU sanctions against his country were aimed to appease Cyprus and were of no importance.


French environment minister quits over spending allegations: France’s Environment Minister Francois de Rugy has announced his resignation after being accused of extravagant spending, including on private dinners. An investigative website alleged that de Rugy hosted lavish social dinners of lobster and fine wines paid for by the taxpayer when he was parliament speaker. The website also accused him of spending public money to refurbish his government-provided apartment. De Rugy lashed out at what he described as a media lynching, saying the energy he had spent defending himself had hampered his work as minister. He has denied any wrongdoing.,

Hackers steal millions of Bulgarians‘ data: Suspected Russian hackers have stolen the personal details of five million people from Bulgaria’s national revenue agency, in possible retaliation for the purchase of several US F-16 fighter jets. The breach of servers at the tax agency happened at the end of June and an official there said it was probably carried out from abroad. A person claiming to be a Russian hacker emailed local media on Monday offering access to the stolen data. Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said about 3% of the agency’s database was affected, involving millions of records in the nation of seven million, though the leaked information was not classified and did not endanger financial stability. Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said the attack coincided with Bulgaria’s purchase of US F-16 fighter jets for its air force and could have been motivated by that.,

German Chancellor Merkel meets with Moldovan Prime Minister Sandu: Angela Merkel sat through a second official ceremony in a week on Tuesday as she welcomed Moldova’s prime minister to Berlin. The German Chancellor, who will celebrate her 65th birthday this Wednesday, sat on a white chair next to Maia Sandu outside the Chancellery as the national anthems of both countries were played. Following her meeting with Sandu, Merkel explained that she understood Moldova’s desire for a future EU accession, but that there were still a number of steps that Moldova could and should take before joining the EU.,

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Spain’s Podemos offers to make concessions to avoid repeat elections: The Spanish Podemos party has announced that it is willing to make concessions to rescue stalled power-sharing talks with acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez’ Socialists and avoid a repeat election. Three months after the Socialists won the biggest share of votes but fell short of a majority in a parliamentary election, talks remain stalled as Sanchez ruled out Iglesias’ demand of a full power-sharing coalition and accused Podemos of acting in bad faith in negotiations.

Greece: Government taps bond market again as borrowing rates drop
Austria: Former Chancellor Kern on supervisory board of Russian railway
France: MPs to agree Notre Dame restoration

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German MEP stages protest against von der Leyen: German MEP Nico Semsrott from satirical party Die Partei (The Party) staged a protest against German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen ahead of the vote in the EU Parliament on whether to approve her nomination as EU Commission President. Taking the floor in the plenary, Semsrott called for the disclosure of von der Leyen’s financial interests, as well as a check to be carried out into possible conflicts of interest. Semsrott added that he already had a suggestion as to how this might look, revealing a black hooded jacket covered in stickers with the logos of firms including KPMG, Accenture, McKinsey, PWE, and PESCO. He appeared to be alluding to a scandal in the German defence ministry concerning external consultancy contracts.



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