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Thursday, September 7


Thursday, September 7

Jeremy Corbyn has backed a soft Brexit


Labour takes the soft road ahead of parliamentary debate

Jeremy Corbyn has backed a soft Brexit
Photo: Getty

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour will pose a strong challenge to Theresa May’s plans for a hard Brexit today when lawmakers debate a law designed to unwind 40 years of EU ties.

After a summer of consideration, Labour now says that Britain should remain part of the EU trading system for an undetermined transitional period. On the other hand, Ms May’s Conservatives insist they’ll prioritise control over the border and legal system over economic ties with Brussels, which they plan to cut by March 2019.

Critics of Labour’s approach say it would require the UK to adhere trading rules but outside the decision-making bodies that make them. The opposition argues, however, that the transition is necessary to prevent Britain from crashing out of the EU after the March 2019 negotiating deadline.

While Labour lacks the numbers to block the repeal bill’s passage, the party’s decision to support a soft Brexit puts it in direct conflict with the government on this key issue for the first time. Mr Corbyn finally has a clear rallying cry on Brexit; expect to hear a lot more of it in the coming months.


Trump welcomes Kuwaiti emir to the White House to discuss Qatar

US top diplomat Tillerson in Kuwait

Today, the US president welcomes Kuwait’s emir—the man mediating a spat between Qatar and a Saudi-led bloc including the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. The row has resulted in a severing of diplomatic ties between Qatar and the bloc.

Despite intensive diplomatic efforts since the start of the crisis in June, talks have failed to break the blockade. The US desires a strong GCC effort against Iran, which requires both Saudi and Qatari support. So far, neither Kuwaiti nor US efforts have budged either side throughout last month.

The Saudi-led bloc, however, has reduced its demands, and Qatar has noted its support for a “constructive dialogue”. Two new American envoys in Qatar could further assist positive developments, though a proper resolution likely remains far-off.

While President Trump has previously displayed anti-Qatar sentiments, the administration’s official position supports the resolution of the crisis. Today’s talks will likely go towards maintaining the current status quo. But, further strategising can provide Kuwait the resources to pursue a solution at a UK-GCC summit in November and when it heads a GCC Secretariat in December.


Macron visits Greeks to push for Eurozone reforms

Emmanuel Macron meets Greek PM Tsipras
Photo: Thierry Charlier/AP

France’s president visits Greece today accompanied by his economic and European affairs ministers as well as a business delegation.

Emmanuel Macron’s trip comes as Greece’s economy recovers slowly—growing 0.8% last quarter. While the unemployment rate has fallen by about 1.5% since January, it remains high at 21.7%.

Talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras should demonstrate the willingness of the French private sector—the delegation includes oil giant Total S.A. and bank Credit Agricole—to invest in Greece, helping the country pay its interest. Mr Macron is further utilising the Greek case to advocate for long-term greater Eurozone integration, which includes a common EU budget to fund investment.

If passed, his proposals—which also include the installation of a finance minister to oversee the Eurozone—could expedite Greece’s current recovery rate and help prevent future debt crises. 

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However, to execute his ambitious reforms, Macron will need to secure the support of his European partners, most notably Germany. Though Angela Merkel has endorsed the principle of a common budget and finance minister, Berlin’s aversion to underwriting other country’s finances, including Greece, points to difficulty in making Macron’s dream reality.

Delve deeper: From financial crisis to extremism: political violence in Greece


THAAD deployment, Rohingya diplomacy, ECB decision

South Korea will roll out four more THAAD launchers today
Photo: Ben Listerman/Missile Defense Agency

After high-level talks in Washington DC last week, South Korea’s defence ministry says the four remaining THAAD systems will be deployed today in the south of the country.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will arrive in Myanmar today to discuss the ongoing Rohingya crisis. Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been deeply critical of Myanmar’s treatment of the Muslim minority. De facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has come under increasing international pressure over the situation, which she says is benefiting “terrorists” and is being exacerbated by an “iceberg of misinformation”.

Europe’s central bankers will review the Eurozone’s interest rate settings today. Rates are expected to be left unchanged at 0%, but ECB chief Mario Draghi could well signal the end of quantitative easing.

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