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Brexit talks go down to the wire ahead of EU summit

Yahoo World News Feed - October 16, 2019 - 12:53am

British and EU officials were to resume talks to clinch a Brexit deal on Wednesday just a few hours after late-night negotiations wound up, but it was far from clear they would reach an agreement before a leaders' summit on Thursday. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday that there was a "glimmer of hope" that a Brexit deal can be reached before Britain's scheduled departure on Oct. 31.


Doubts grow over Merkel's heir apparent as German chancellor

Yahoo World News Feed - October 16, 2019 - 12:52am

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer's path to succeed Angela Merkel as Germany's chancellor seemed clear when she replaced her as leader of the governing Christian Democrats (CDU) last December. Ten months later, members of her own party are debating whether AKK, as she is widely known, is the right person to lead the European Union's most powerful country and biggest economy.


Hong Kong leader forced to abandon state of the union address amid protests

Yahoo World News Feed - October 16, 2019 - 12:49am

Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam abandoned a state-of-the-union style address after opposition politicians heckled her in chaotic scenes inside the city’s legislative chamber. As protesters gathered on the outskirts of the building, Ms Lam tried twice to deliver her speech while lawmakers projected a protest slogan behind her, forcing her to leave the chamber and release her remarks in an online video. Her speech had been billed as an attempt to win the hearts and minds of Hong Kong residents as pro-democracy protests disrupting the city enter a fifth month. In an attempt to restore calm, Ms Lam pledged a range of social and economic measures, largely aimed at lowering the cost of living – particularly housing, by shortening the waiting time for public housing. But Ms Lam’s policies – perhaps welcome to some young protesters who find it near-impossible to own a house – appear a short-term solution to a long-term political problem that is unlikely to be solved in the way activists are demanding.  A line of police officers ride an escalator behind a protester holding an umbrella Credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS One main tenet protesters have called for are democratic reforms to allow for direct leadership elections, to put in place a government they feel will be more representative. To that end, Ms Lam made made clear “any acts that advocate Hong Kong’s independence and threaten the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests will not be tolerated.” Hong Kong instead will remain under the “one country, two systems” principle. The policy, in place since the former British colony was returned to Beijing rule, was meant to keep in place freedoms in the city not seen in mainland China, led by the ruling Communist Party.  “Carrie Lam attempted to win people over by introducing these policies [but] she will not succeed. She failed to address the core issues,” said Alvin Yeung, a pro-democracy lawmaker. Her policy speech was “the last chance to address these pressing issues.”  But Hong Kong people have grown increasingly irate as growing Communist Party influence has led to eroding rights, the issue that broadly underpins the ongoing protests that now form the most public, direct opposition to president Xi Jinping since he took the reins in 2012.  As unrest continues, politicians in the UK and US have grown more vocal for Beijing to seek a humane resolution, as state media videos of military buildup in neighbouring Shenzhen, sending an ominous sign.  On Tuesday, the US House passed by unanimous voice vote four pieces of legislation taking a hard line on China, three of which were related to the protests in Hong Kong, drawing condemnation from Beijing. One of the measures, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, would require the US secretary of state to certify annually that Hong Kong remained sufficient autonomous to keep receiving special treatment that has allowed it to be a global financial hub. Another measure would bar commercial exports of military and crowd-control gear that Hong Kong police could use against demonstrators.  In June, the UK halted all new export licenses of crowd-control equipment to Hong Kong.


Afghan refugee's 'Dream' coffee shop in Iran becomes reality

Yahoo World News Feed - October 16, 2019 - 12:33am

With each serving of French press coffee poured delicately into a cup with steamed milk, 21-year-old Afghan refugee Fatemeh Jafari lives out a dream in her basement coffee shop in Tehran that is out of reach for millions like her in Iran. Jafari hopes her "Telma Cafe" ("Dream Cafe") in Tehran will help bridge the divide between Afghans and Iranians and fight the xenophobia many Afghans face in Iran.


The Biggest Opponents of German Fiscal Stimulus Are Coming Round

Yahoo World News Feed - October 16, 2019 - 12:25am

(Bloomberg) -- The German political class is preparing itself to deliver bold fiscal stimulus if the economy needs it.Lawmakers from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led group have been among the most crucial opponents of finance ministry plans to respond to an economic hit and their stance is beginning to soften, according to two people familiar with party discussions.Critically, the CDU caucus in the Bundestag would be ready to break its long-held commitment to a balanced budget -- the much heralded “black zero” -- if a downturn required a more powerful reaction, according to one of the people, a member of the parliamentary group.German bonds fell, with 10-year yields rising two basis points to -0.4%, the highest level since July 30, and the euro strengthened 0.2% to $1.1049 as of 8:15 a.m. in Berlin.Europe’s largest economy already contracted in the second quarter and may have entered recession over the past three months as the global trade war buffets its export-led economy. Germany could suffer another hit if the Brexit negotiations unravel over the next week or the conflict in Syria spirals out of control.And that is focusing minds in Berlin.Read More: The Plot to Scrap Germany’s Balanced Budgets Has Already BegunMerkel has hinted as much herself. She still insists the next generation should not inherit an unwieldy debt load. But last week she balanced that by saying Germans shouldn’t become obsessed with a balanced budget -- investing in the future, including with a new climate package, is also a priority.“This is not about taking up budgetary issues alone and saying the ‘black zero’ is our fetish,” Merkel said in an Oct. 10 speech to a trade union in Nuremberg.Just on Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for German growth, predicting an expansion of only 0.5% this year. It reiterated its call for the country to ramp up budget stimulus.In a time of cheap credit and global economic disruption, the finance ministry under Social Democrat Olaf Scholz is already shifting away from decades of economic dogma focused on public savings. The government has drawn up a raft of options, including subsidies for electric car sales and tax cuts, that could be set into motion if needed, according to people with knowledge of the plans.The IMF said that Germany should take account of low borrowing costs to invest, “even from a pure cost-benefit perspective.”In August, Scholz, who is making a bid to lead Germany’s Social Democrats, suggested the government could muster up to 50 billion euros ($55 billion) of extra spending in a crisis. That figure matches the extra borrowing deployed in the global financial crisis a decade ago.“We’re in a position, with the financial fundamentals we have, to respond with many, many billions, if indeed an economic crisis erupts in Germany and Europe,” Scholz told parliament in September. “And we will do it. That’s Keynesian economics come alive, if you will.”Read More: German Fiscal Stimulus Already Creeping In, Whatever Merkel SaysBut while the finance ministry is increasingly ready to embrace public spending, it needs allies in Merkel’s party and its Bavarian sister group, the Christian Social Union. That bloc has long been a bastion of the fiscal discipline championed by Scholz’s predecessor as finance chief, Wolfgang Schaeuble.Getting Germany to use its fiscal space to bolster the economy has become a priority for European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and his imminent successor, Christine Lagarde. He told journalists last month that it’s “high time for the fiscal policy to take change” in the region.Part of the shift has to do with a growing recognition that Germany should take advantage of historically low interest rates to invest in upgrading its infrastructure. As part of the climate package unveiled last month, Merkel’s coalition agreed to pump 1 billion euros a year into the state rail operator, Deutsche Bahn.Unspent FundsMerkel’s caucus colleagues still won’t be shifting on the so-called debt brake which limits German deficit spending, according to the CDU lawmaker. And he also insisted that a shortage of shovel-ready projects and too much bureaucracy rather than a shortage of cash -- the state has plenty of unspent funds already earmarked. But the CDU is coming round all the same.If the economy takes a further hit, the first line of defense will be increased payments from Germany’s vast social insurance system, likely to outstrip dwindling tax income and blow a hole in the budget, the two officials said. After that planners will weigh a more aggressive response, they said.The economic clouds on the horizon are adding to a sense of urgency. Europe’s largest economy reported an unexpected decline in joblessness last month. A crisis “is not in view, but indicators show that no turnaround is in sight either,” the Economy Ministry said Monday in its monthly report.(Updates with markets in the fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Birgit Jennen, Craig Stirling and John Ainger.To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Richard BravoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


A Brexit Deal Would Offer Parliament Two Types of Misery

Yahoo World News Feed - October 16, 2019 - 12:00am

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- If British and European Union negotiators are indeed inching toward a point where they can present a Brexit deal for approval, the U.K. parliament will soon have a historic decision to make on whether to back it. For many lawmakers, it would be a choice between two different types of misery.Opponents of Brexit, or this particular deal, would voice strong objections to whatever Johnson brings back — if indeed he gets it past his stubborn allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. But would Brexit-weary voters forgive a party that turned down a deal now? Johnson is betting they wouldn’t.Winning support from his own Conservative MPs should be more straightforward for Johnson than it was for Theresa May, his predecessor in No. 10. Lee Rowley, a Tory MP who opposed May’s deal three times, was speaking for others too when he said on Monday: “For the health of our democracy and to restore faith in this most venerable of institutions, in my view we simply must get Brexit done.”The so-called Spartans among Conservative lawmakers who refused to support May’s withdrawal deal have given signs they’ll back their new leader. They’re deeply worried that further delays to Brexit will hurt the Conservatives’ chances at an imminent general election and increase the likelihood of the U.K. not quitting the EU at all.It helps that some arch-Brexiters are now on the government payroll. Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, has even suggested that if Johnson comes back with terms like those he described previously as “cretinous” when they had May’s name on them, he’d probably support them.That wall of endorsement might crumble if the DUP withheld their blessing; and EU officials believe Johnson won’t give the green light to a deal unless he’s sure the DUP will back it. Arlene Foster, the party’s leader, said of his potential deal on Tuesday evening: “It would be fair to indicate gaps remain and further work is required.” The prime minister’s proposed concessions to Brussels are thought to include customs checks between the U.K. mainland and Northern Ireland, anathema to unionists.But maybe the DUP can be bought off by promises of billions of extra cash from Westminster for Northern Ireland. And Johnson will have been buoyed somewhat by potential support for his putative deal from some Brexiter MPs in the opposition Labour Party.Indeed, Labour’s mightily complicated Brexit position will look even more awkward if Johnson did somehow come back to Parliament with a deal and DUP support. The party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit strategy has assumed an almost infinite level of public patience: First win a general election (which will have to take place soon given Johnson’s lack of a majority), then renegotiate the Brexit deal and then hold a referendum on whether to remain or leave with Labour’s deal. With the British public exhausted by Brexit, a Johnson deal would look like more of an election winner for the Tories. Any deal vote in Parliament will almost certainly include an amendment demanding the agreement be put to the people in a confirmatory referendum. Some Labour MPs favor the party backing such a referendum before agreeing to a new general election. But that would require another long extension of the Brexit process, again not something that’s going to be loved by many British voters. The position of the centrist Liberal Democrats, revived under leader Jo Swinson as the Stop Brexit party, will be important. The Lib Dems support a “people’s vote” on any agreed Brexit deal, although their preference is to revoke Brexit altogether. But if getting a referendum required a vote of no-confidence in Johnson, Swinson has refused to back even a temporary replacement government with Corbyn in charge. So the Labour leader would have to let someone else become prime minister or Swinson would have to accept him in Downing Street. Neither outcome looks likely.In other words, all parties are considering not just the terms of Johnson’s possible deal but the terms on which they will fight the election. A vote for a deal would be a vote to end this phase of the Brexit negotiations and pave the way for the general election, although it would strengthen Johnson going into it. A vote against a deal would probably mean an extension from the EU to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline and more uncertainty, perhaps still including an election. Voters again may reward Johnson for his efforts to break the impasse and penalize MPs who got in the way. The stakes are high for another reason too: An exit deal is just the beginning. A bigger, more important, negotiation on the future U.K.-EU trading relationship starts after that. The next government will shape that as well as Britain’s economic direction generally. For the past three years, lawmakers have agreed repeatedly that they don’t want a no-deal exit, but they haven’t found a majority for anything else. Even with the relief that might come from a deal, it’s not hard to see why they might struggle to say yes now.To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


A Brexit Deal Would Offer Parliament Two Types of Misery

Yahoo World News Feed - October 16, 2019 - 12:00am

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- If British and European Union negotiators are indeed inching toward a point where they can present a Brexit deal for approval, the U.K. parliament will soon have a historic decision to make on whether to back it. For many lawmakers, it would be a choice between two different types of misery.Opponents of Brexit, or this particular deal, would voice strong objections to whatever Johnson brings back — if indeed he gets it past his stubborn allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. But would Brexit-weary voters forgive a party that turned down a deal now? Johnson is betting they wouldn’t.Winning support from his own Conservative MPs should be more straightforward for Johnson than it was for Theresa May, his predecessor in No. 10. Lee Rowley, a Tory MP who opposed May’s deal three times, was speaking for others too when he said on Monday: “For the health of our democracy and to restore faith in this most venerable of institutions, in my view we simply must get Brexit done.”The so-called Spartans among Conservative lawmakers who refused to support May’s withdrawal deal have given signs they’ll back their new leader. They’re deeply worried that further delays to Brexit will hurt the Conservatives’ chances at an imminent general election and increase the likelihood of the U.K. not quitting the EU at all.It helps that some arch-Brexiters are now on the government payroll. Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, has even suggested that if Johnson comes back with terms like those he described previously as “cretinous” when they had May’s name on them, he’d probably support them.That wall of endorsement might crumble if the DUP withheld their blessing; and EU officials believe Johnson won’t give the green light to a deal unless he’s sure the DUP will back it. Arlene Foster, the party’s leader, said of his potential deal on Tuesday evening: “It would be fair to indicate gaps remain and further work is required.” The prime minister’s proposed concessions to Brussels are thought to include customs checks between the U.K. mainland and Northern Ireland, anathema to unionists.But maybe the DUP can be bought off by promises of billions of extra cash from Westminster for Northern Ireland. And Johnson will have been buoyed somewhat by potential support for his putative deal from some Brexiter MPs in the opposition Labour Party.Indeed, Labour’s mightily complicated Brexit position will look even more awkward if Johnson did somehow come back to Parliament with a deal and DUP support. The party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit strategy has assumed an almost infinite level of public patience: First win a general election (which will have to take place soon given Johnson’s lack of a majority), then renegotiate the Brexit deal and then hold a referendum on whether to remain or leave with Labour’s deal. With the British public exhausted by Brexit, a Johnson deal would look like more of an election winner for the Tories. Any deal vote in Parliament will almost certainly include an amendment demanding the agreement be put to the people in a confirmatory referendum. Some Labour MPs favor the party backing such a referendum before agreeing to a new general election. But that would require another long extension of the Brexit process, again not something that’s going to be loved by many British voters. The position of the centrist Liberal Democrats, revived under leader Jo Swinson as the Stop Brexit party, will be important. The Lib Dems support a “people’s vote” on any agreed Brexit deal, although their preference is to revoke Brexit altogether. But if getting a referendum required a vote of no-confidence in Johnson, Swinson has refused to back even a temporary replacement government with Corbyn in charge. So the Labour leader would have to let someone else become prime minister or Swinson would have to accept him in Downing Street. Neither outcome looks likely.In other words, all parties are considering not just the terms of Johnson’s possible deal but the terms on which they will fight the election. A vote for a deal would be a vote to end this phase of the Brexit negotiations and pave the way for the general election, although it would strengthen Johnson going into it. A vote against a deal would probably mean an extension from the EU to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline and more uncertainty, perhaps still including an election. Voters again may reward Johnson for his efforts to break the impasse and penalize MPs who got in the way. The stakes are high for another reason too: An exit deal is just the beginning. A bigger, more important, negotiation on the future U.K.-EU trading relationship starts after that. The next government will shape that as well as Britain’s economic direction generally. For the past three years, lawmakers have agreed repeatedly that they don’t want a no-deal exit, but they haven’t found a majority for anything else. Even with the relief that might come from a deal, it’s not hard to see why they might struggle to say yes now.To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


EU, U.K. Negotiators Closing In on a Draft Deal: Brexit Update

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 10:12am

(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.U.K. and European Union negotiators are closing in on a draft Brexit deal amid optimism there could be a breakthrough before the end of Tuesday, two EU officials said.They cautioned talks haven’t yet finished, and there could be problems hitting the midnight deadline. But there are clear signs that a legal text is close to being ready.The aim would be to present the draft to national delegations on Wednesday morning, an EU diplomat said. The pound surged, climbing as much as 1.2% to $1.2756, the highest level in nearly four months.Prime Minister Boris Johnson will still need to secure the agreement of the U.K. Parliament. Negotiators have approached, and even managed to strike, a Brexit deal before -- only to see it shot down in London. Any concession Johnson makes to secure a deal in Brussels risks incurring the opposition of the Democratic Unionist Party, whose support will be vital for any agreement to pass.All time stamps below are Brussels time (CET).Key developments:EU, U.K. negotiators said to be closing in on draft Brexit dealPound traders are gearing up for a nail-biting finish to BrexitJohnson still needs to persuade his Northern Irish alliesVaradkar: Gaps Remain as Talks Make Progress (5:30 p.m.)Irish premier Leo Varadkar said Brexit talks have made “progress,” and are moving in the right direction, but as of a few hours ago, significant gaps still remain between the EU position and that of the U.K. The key difference remains on plans for customs checks on the island of Ireland.Speaking to reporters in Dublin, Varadkar said the situation may have developed in the last few hours and he would be briefed this evening on developments. Negotiators Closing In on Draft Brexit Deal (4:30 p.m.)A dramatic breakthrough in negotiations could come within hours after a productive day of intensive talks in Brussels so far. The British side submitted revised proposals for a deal which appear to have unlocked progress.The U.K’s plans are shrouded in secrecy but the focus is on Northern Ireland’s relationship to the EU’s customs union and the degree to which checks on goods crossing the Irish border can be eliminated. That border has been the scene of violence for decades until the late 1990s and both sides are committed to protecting the peace, which border posts could undermine.Two EU officials suggested that the U.K. had accepted that customs checks would have to take place on goods traveling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland -- in other words between two parts of the U.K. -- rather than at the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.That’s something that Theresa May ruled out, and Boris Johnson’s Northern Irish allies in the Democratic Unionist Party has previously said they cannot support. This means getting a deal on these lines through a vote in Britain’s Parliament could be difficult.Saturday Sitting Will Depend on Talks: Rees-Mogg (3:15 p.m.)Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said it still hasn’t been decided if the U.K. Parliament should meet on Saturday, and events at the summit of EU leaders on Thursday and Friday will determine if it does.“The events that might require a Saturday sitting have not yet reached their fruition,” Rees-Mogg told the House of Commons. “It will only happen if we have something, subject to what happens in European Council, to debate on Saturday.”He said Parliament meeting on a Saturday for only the fourth time in 70 years would be necessary to fulfill the terms of the Benn Act, which requires Boris Johnson to write to the EU to request an extension if a Brexit agreement has not been reached by then. Chris Leslie, a Labour MP who backed the legislation, said it does not need Parliament to meet for the law to be obeyed.Finnish PM Says U.K. Making ‘Real Effort’ (1:45 p.m.)Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne said an extension to Brexit may come up at the EU leaders’ summit at the end of the week and there are grounds to consider it.Rinne, whose views are significant because his country holds the rotating presidency of the bloc, also said it’s possible an extra summit on Brexit will be needed before the end of the month. “It makes sense to try to reach a common view until the last moment,” Rinne told reporters in Helsinki.“For the first time during this process I have a feeling the U.K. is making a real effort,” he said. “Britain’s actions have shown it is seeking a deal to avoid a hard Brexit.”Johnson, Macron Had ‘Constructive’ Brexit Call (12:48 p.m.)Boris Johnson discussed Brexit with French President Emmanuel Macron in a 20 minute phone call, Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, told reporters in London.“It was constructive. I would say it was a good discussion,” Slack said, without giving further details of the discussion.The U.K. is working hard to reach a deal with the bloc as time runs short before Thursday’s summit of EU leaders in Brussels, Slack said.The Pound Pares Earlier Gains (12:25 p.m.)After rallying on Barnier’s comments that a deal is possible this week, the pound pared some of its gains, as details emerged from the meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg, in which remaining sticking points were highlighted.It was still up by 0.3% against the dollar as of 12:20 p.m in Brussels, amid cautious optimism that an accord is within grasp. The whipsaw between positive and skeptical headlines pushed one-week volatility to its highest since July 2016.France Says U.K. Made Serious Brexit Proposal (12:14 p.m.)The French government believes that the U.K. presented a “serious proposal” to exit the EU, though it’s too early to say if there will be a deal by the European summit later this week.The situation regarding Brexit must be clear before the EU leaders meet on Thursday in Brussels, about two weeks prior to the Oct. 31 deadline for the U.K.’s exit from the bloc, a French presidency official said during a briefing with reporters in Paris.JPMorgan Says Pare Back No-Deal Brexit Protection (12:12 p.m.)JPMorgan Chase & Co. credit strategists are so confident that the U.K. will avoid crashing out of the EU without a deal this month that they recommend closing Brexit hedges on no-deal exposed borrowers such as Lloyds Banking Group Plc and ITV Plc.Coveney Says “Today is a Key Day” (12:00 p.m.)“This isn’t the time for optimism or pessimism,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told reporters in Luxembourg after the meeting with his EU counterparts and Barnier. “The negotiating teams have made progress but it’s been slow,” he added.“This is difficult, but it is possible,” according to Coveney, who reiterated that EU leaders aren’t willing to negotiate on a legal text. Such text must be finalized by negotiating teams.“Today is a key day,” he said. “I don’t want to raise expectations, but later on today or this evening, but if there is going to be a positive report that is needed in EU capitals tomorrow in advance of the EU Summit, well clearly, a big step forward needs to happen today.”Barnier’s Cautious Optimism (11:35 a.m.)Barnier was cautiously optimistic about the prospect of a Brexit deal during his meeting in Luxembourg with EU ministers, according to a national official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. A breakthrough is possible as soon as today, in which case the matter would be to EU leaders when they meet Oct. 17-18, according to the official.While the sticking points remain the same, Barnier’s optimism reflects U.K. willingness to address EU concerns, said the official. Barnier himself, walking by reporters in a hallway in Luxembourg, told them the search for a Brexit agreement is an “ongoing process.”Barnier Sees Chances of Significant Progress (11:05 a.m.)Here’s a bit more from Barnier’s discussion with EU ministers in Luxembourg. “Not all that U.K. has been saying in the last days is totally unacceptable,” the chief negotiator said, according to one of the people in the meeting. “They have moved in our direction on key points and that’s why I think we still can make significant progress today,” he said, according to the official.Rees-Mogg: Parliament Would Approve Deal (10:45 a.m.)Jacob Rees-Mogg, the U.K. minister in charge of steering legislation through the House of Commons, said that if Johnson secures a deal with the EU, it could be ratified by Parliament very quickly. “The votes are there,” Rees-Mogg told LBC radio.For any deal to pass, the issue of the Irish border would need to be solved in order to guarantee the support of the Democratic Unionist Party, which has 10 crucial votes in the legislature.“I don’t know what is being discussed in Brussels,” Rees-Mogg told LBC. “Basically, I am trusting Boris Johnson because he has been a Brexiteer before the term Brexiteer existed.”Barclay: Deal is “Very Much” Possible (10:45 a.m.)“Talks are ongoing and we need to give them space,” U.K. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told reporters in Luxembourg. He added that a “deal is very much possible.”Merkel Promises to Work to ‘Last Minute’ (10:40 a.m.)Chancellor Angela Merkel says Brexit talks are like “squaring the circle,” but she will continue to work for a deal until the “last minute.”“It’s very, very complicated,” Merkel said in a speech in Berlin at an industrial conference. “We’ll work on it until the last minute.”Text Ready for Summit? (10:30 a.m.)Barnier has told EU ministers that there is a chance the two sides could have a consolidated legal text ready by Thursday’s summit, according to two officials present at the meeting. The two sides are closing in on an agreement on the Stormont lock and customs checks in Northern Ireland.Barnier cautioned that the talks could still go one of three ways: conclude, reach a deadlock, or need to continue after the summit. He plans to debrief the bloc’s envoys in Brussels on Wednesday about the outcome of the discussions.U.K. Carmakers call for EU deal (10 a.m.)After spending more than 500 million pounds ($628 million) preparing for Brexit, British carmakers made a last-ditch call to the government to reach a deal. Crashing out of the EU would threaten jobs and the industry’s long-term survival, the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders said on Tuesday.U.K. Submits New Proposals (9:55 a.m.)The U.K. submitted new proposals to EU negotiators on Monday clarifying its plan for customs rules for Northern Ireland, two officials said.Barnier had told diplomats on Sunday that the U.K.’s plans were too complex and risked opening up the European single market to fraud. Monday’s proposals were aimed at responding to that, the officials said.France Says a Deal Is Up to the U.K. (9:30 a.m.)France’s Europe minister, Amelie de Montchalin, said she is still hopeful of a Brexit deal -- but the onus is on the U.K. to bring forward its proposals. The complexity of what was being requested for the Irish border and the short time available make things difficult, she said.“An agreement is possible, but it has to be a balanced deal for everyone,” she said.U.K. to Submit New Proposals (9:20 a.m.)The U.K. will bring forward new proposals today, RTE’s Europe’s editor Tony Connelly reported, citing two unidentified people familiar with the matter. It is not clear if they are revised version of the current British plans being discussed -- which involve keeping Northern Ireland in both the EU and U.K.’s customs zones -- or a different plan, Connelly added.Late Night Talks (9:15 a.m.)In a sign of how intensive the Brexit negotiations have become, they didn’t break up until about 11:30 p.m. on Monday, officials with knowledge of the talks said. They have already resumed in Brussels on Tuesday morning, they said.German Minister Not Sure Deal Is Close (9:10 a.m.)“I’m not quite sure a deal is close but we’re doing our best to find a good deal,” Germany’s Europe Minister Michael Roth told reporters in Luxembourg. “A hard Brexit would be a disaster, not just for the U.K., but also for the 27.”Roth said Germany was “extremely flexible” but that the integrity of the single market and the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland after decades of violence, were key.Dutch Minister Says Proposal Needs More Work (8:56 a.m.)The foreign minister from the Netherlands told reporters that the U.K. offer indicates progress, but more work needs to be done.“The U.K. proposal contains some steps forward but doesn’t yet guarantee that the single market will be protected,” Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok told reporters in Luxembourg. “There have been intensive talks and they’re still going on, but let’s use the remaining time until Oct. 31.”Pound Gains After Barnier Comments (8:50 a.m.)The pound jumped on Barnier’s comments, rising as much as 0.7% to $1.2698, close to the three-month high touched last week after leaders said they could see a “pathway” to a potential Brexit deal. Hedge funds and asset managers have been paring their bets on a weaker pound, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.Barnier Says Brexit Deal Difficult, Possible (8:35 a.m)EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said a Brexit deal is possible this week but talks remain tough. “Even if an agreement will be difficult -- more and more difficult to be frank -- it will still be possible this week,” Barnier told reporters in Luxembourg.“Reaching an agreement is still possible. Obviously, any agreement must work for everyone, the whole of the U.K. and the whole of the EU,” he said.He added that it’s high time to “turn good intentions into a legal text.”Earlier:Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal On Knife Edge as EU Needs More TimeJohnson Has a Big Brexit Problem: His Northern Irish FriendsThe Brexit Threat to World Markets Remains Too Huge to Ignore\--With assistance from Thomas Penny, John Ainger, Jessica Shankleman, Patrick Donahue, Kitty Donaldson, Vassilis Karamanis, Helene Fouquet, Leo Laikola and Jonathan Stearns.To contact the reporters on this story: Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.net;Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at nchrysoloras@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Edward Evans, Tim RossFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Russia moves to fill void left by US in northern Syria

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 10:01am

Russia moved to fill the void left by the United States in northern Syria on Tuesday, deploying troops to keep apart advancing Syrian government and Turkish forces. At the same time, tensions grew within NATO as Turkey defied growing condemnation of its invasion from its Western allies. Now in its seventh day, Turkey's offensive against Kurdish fighters has upended alliances and is re-drawing the map of northern Syria for yet another time in the 8-year-old war.


France Blocks EU Push to Open Membership Talks With Balkan States

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 9:58am

(Bloomberg) -- France blocked a European Union drive to start membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, dismissing German-led warnings that political stability in the Balkans could be at stake.At a meeting of EU general affairs ministers on Tuesday, the French government shot down a plan to give the two countries a target date next year for beginning entry talks, according to two officials familiar with discussion who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The move pushes the whole controversy onto the already-crowded agenda of an Oct. 17-18 EU summit in Brussels, where Brexit and Syria will also be discussed.The deadlock at the ministerial gathering in Luxembourg resulted from a French argument, backed in part by the Netherlands, that no date should be set for opening accession deliberations with North Macedonia and Albania until the EU revamps its whole approach to enlargement. At issue is whether the two countries adhere to EU norms on the rule of law, an area where some new member nations have been accused of backsliding.“We clearly aren’t in a position today to stand by what we have repeatedly promised, namely the taking up of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania,” German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth told reporters in Luxembourg. “We are very disappointed.”EU InfightingThe infighting among EU governments reflects two competing political views: German-backed arguments that offering more Balkan countries the hope of joining the world’s biggest trading club strengthens European geopolitical stability and French-led calls for deeper integration of the bloc before any further expansion.Both Albania and North Macedonia have been lobbying to open accession talks, with the latter changing its name to resolve a decades-long dispute with Greece. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has said both countries have made enough progress in aligning their judicial standards to merit opening of negotiations.Johannes Hahn, the European commissioner in charge of enlargement policy, predicted that EU national government heads would reach an agreement on Thursday or Friday that eluded their general-affairs ministers.“It am still confident the leaders will rectify the decision -- or non-decision -- of today,” Hahn, who comes from Austria, told reporters after the Luxembourg meeting. “I hope our leaders are able to see the broader picture.”The French-German split is itself a symptom of EU successes and failures over the past two decades.On the one hand, the bloc orchestrated a “big-bang” enlargement in 2004 by adding ex-communist nations in eastern Europe. On the other, a Greece-triggered debt crisis that almost broke apart the euro and a rise in euroskeptic political forces that helped lead to the U.K.’s Brexit decision have stoked concerns about letting in more poorer nations.Three other Balkan countries have already started membership negotiations: Serbia in 2014, Montenegro in 2012 and Turkey in 2005.(Updates with comments by EU’s Hahn in seventh, eighth paragraphs)To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Stearns in Luxembourg at jstearns2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Michael Winfrey, Richard BravoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


UPDATE 1-Sick of Brexit, Scotland's Sturgeon vows new independence vote in 2020

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 9:51am

Scotland must hold another independence referendum in 2020 and will soon request the powers needed to hold it legally, Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday. Scots rejected independence in a referendum in 2014 but the SNP says that Britain's vote to leave the European Union fundamentally changes its constitutional arrangements and means that the independence question should be revisited. Sturgeon, who is also Scotland's First Minister, said she was "sick of Brexit" and that the United Kingdom was a broken political system that imposed policies on Scotland against its will.


Putin talks investments and space in Abu Dhabi

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 9:43am

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed deals worth over $1.3 billion with the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, wrapping up a tour of the Gulf where he also courted investment in Saudi Arabia. A day after inking a major oil cooperation deal with Riyadh, Putin was greeted by Abu Dhabi's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. "You will not be disappointed by your Russian partners," Putin said.


The Latest: French FM calls for anti-IS coalition meeting

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 9:41am

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has called for a meeting of the international coalition against the Islamic State group, including the United States and Turkey, to discuss the situation in northeast Syria. France is still dialoguing with Syria's Kurds, who were key allies in a U.S.-led coalition against IS, he said. "There's some trouble" in the relationship between the European Union and the U.S., Le Drian acknowledged.


EU, U.K. Negotiators Said to Be Closing in on Draft Brexit Deal

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 9:26am

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. and European Union negotiators in Brussels are closing in on a draft Brexit deal with optimism there will be a breakthrough before the end of the day Tuesday, two EU officials said.Any draft legal text will hinge on whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes he has the support of the U.K. Parliament, with the backing of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party crucial. Officials cautioned talks haven’t finished yet and there’s work still to do.The pound surged after Bloomberg’s initial reports, climbing as much as 1.5% to $1.28, the highest level in nearly five months.While there’s some finalizing to do, there are clear indications that negotiators will present a legal text on Wednesday morning for EU governments to scrutinize, an official said. That would only be possible if there’s a green light from Johnson, a separate official said.Negotiators have approached -- and even managed to strike -- a Brexit deal before, only to see it shot down by the British government or the House of Commons, and EU negotiators are aware of Johnson’s need to get the DUP on board. This could complicate clinching a deal by Tuesday’s midnight deadline and shift focus to a summit of EU leaders that starts in Brussels on Thursday.Saturday VoteIf a deal is reached, Johnson would be able to put it to the U.K. Parliament on Saturday and avoid being forced to seek another delay beyond Oct. 31. But he lacks a majority in Westminster and any concessions could prompt the DUP, which props up his administration, to try and thwart the agreement.The U.K’s proposals are shrouded in secrecy but the focus is on Northern Ireland’s relationship to the EU’s customs union and the degree to which checks can be eliminated on goods crossing the Irish border, a scene of violence for decades until the late 1990s.Two EU officials suggested that the U.K. had accepted that customs checks would have to take place on goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland -- in other words between two parts of the U.K. -- rather than between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. That customs border in the Irish Sea is something the DUP has previously said it won’t support.(Updates with Parliament details starting in the sixth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.net;Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at nchrysoloras@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Richard Bravo, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Wildfires spread through parts of Lebanon, Syria

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 9:25am

Wildfires spread through parts of Lebanon on Tuesday after forcing some residents to flee their homes in the middle of the night, while others were stuck inside as the flames reached villages south of Beirut, authorities said. There were no reports of fatalities from the fires — among the worst to hit Lebanon in years. Fire crews were overwhelmed by the flames in the Mount Lebanon region early Tuesday, forcing the Interior Ministry to send riot police with engines equipped with water cannons to help.


Nearly Half of Food Waste Happens Before It Reaches the Market

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 9:21am

The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization says 14 percent of all food produced never even makes it to the consumer.


Irish PM says Brexit talks make progress and going in the right direction

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 9:19am

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday that Brexit talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union had made progress and were moving in the right direction. "In terms of Brexit negotiations, I've a confession to make: Tuesday is a pretty crazy day and I spent the morning in cabinet and the afternoon in the Chamber so I've to go back to the office now and get a briefing from Brussels," Varadkar told reporters. "The initial indications are that we are making progress, that negotiations are moving in the right direction," Varadkar said.


2 contractors killed, 2 injured at Saudi oil refinery

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 9:01am

A Saudi oil refinery owned by its state-run energy company says an apparent industrial accident has killed two workers and injured two others. It did not elaborate on the cause of the incident, nor did it elaborate on what killed and injured the contractors. SASREF is owned by Saudi Aramco, which the kingdom hopes to offer a sliver of in an initial public offering to raise money for the country's development plans.


Sturgeon Repeats Call for Scottish Independence Vote Next Year

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 8:48am

(Bloomberg) -- Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon repeated her call for another referendum on independence next year and said she will demand the U.K. gives her the power to hold one.Addressing her Scottish National Party conference in Aberdeen, she said her government in Edinburgh will have completed legislative preparations in coming months."We are already working to update the independence prospectus," she said. "And I can confirm today that before the end of this year, I will demand the transfer of power that puts the legality of a referendum beyond any doubt."The SNP will also campaign in the next U.K. election on the right to hold another vote, she said. In the last one, in September 2014, Scots chose 55% to 45% to remain in the three-centuries-old union with England.Since then, Scotland voted to stay in the European Union while the rest of Britain opted to leave. Sturgeon called Brexit a "disaster."To contact the reporter on this story: Rodney Jefferson in Edinburgh at r.jefferson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Sillitoe at psillitoe@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Yemeni officials: Saudi troops take control Aden in deal

Yahoo World News Feed - October 15, 2019 - 8:39am

Yemeni officials say Saudi Arabian troops have taken control of the airport and ports in the interim capital Aden from separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates. The officials spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.


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