Vulcan View – Monday 24th to Friday 28th of September
KEY EVENTS THIS WEEK:
Labour party delivers strong opposition to Theresa May’s Brexit at party conference
In his leader’s speech at this week’s Labour party conference, Jeremy Corbyn reiterated that Labour MPs will be voting against Theresa May’s Chequers plan. He announced that they will equally oppose a no-deal exit in the meaningful vote, which Mrs May has promised to parliament following the conclusion of negotiations in November.
Mr Corbyn stated that the Labour party would only be willing to back a deal that involves “exactly the same benefits” as membership of the single market and the customs union, as well as guaranteeing no hard border in Ireland. This conditional offer of support was unsurprisingly rebuffed by conservatives, who maintain leaving the EU single market is mandated by the referendum result.
The Labour conference also saw the party swing to vote to support a second referendum, in the event that no agreement is reached, and they fail to force a UK general election. Divisions remain as to whether this would involve an option to remain in the EU.
Though highly hypothetical, this eleventh hour challenge, which leaves all options “on the table” increases pressure on the Prime Minister, just as her Chequers proposals have been firmly rejected by the EU and continue to receive criticism from hardliners within her party.
The EU has prepared a five-day contingency plan in case of ‘no-deal’
The European Commission has announced a plan to create a fast- track process to deal with the likely disruption in the event of a no-deal British exit. The move was announced after an outline of Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn’s, speech on Labour’s Brexit strategy was leaked in advance to ambassadors in Brussels.
In response to what they consider a growing threat that the UK may inadvertently leave the EU without an agreement, Brussels is implementing a strategy to allow emergency legal changes to be passed in as little as five days, in order to mitigate chaos in areas such as Transport, customs and finance.
The secretary-general of the commission briefed ambassadors on Wednesday on the details of these measures, but also stressed that governments would have to judge to what extent it is in the EU’s interest to ease the negative fallout for Britain.
This return to contingency planning, despite criticism that it endangers negotiations, is an indication of European government’s concerns at the current state of progress, given Theresa May’s warning last week that they were “at an impasse”.
Angela Merkel loses key domestic ally in unprecedented rebellion
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suffered a significant political loss as her right-hand man, parliamentary leader Volker Kauder was, this week, unceremoniously ousted from office, in a move that suggests her hold on her party in waning.
Volker Kauder had led the parliamentary group for 13 years and was backed by Merkel and other party leaders. However, he lost in a secret ballot to his deputy Ralph Brinkhaus, who received 125 votes to Kauder’s 112. The defeat came despite a personal plea made by Merkel to the group, where she told members that Kauder is crucial to the stability of her government.
The vote was a very clear statement from conservative MPs to the Chancellor that they are not entirely satisfied with her stewardship, and comes after a succession of run-ins with coalition partners over the issue of migration and accusations of misinformation by Germany’s spy chief.
Ms Merkel has refused calls from the opposition to hold a vote of confidence and is still expected to see out what will be her last term in office, although with waning influence within her own party.
Italy’s populist government agrees higher public spending in conflict with EU
In a meeting held late Thursday evening, the Italian government agreed to a sharp increase in public spending to allow their populist election promises, including a universal basic income and tax cuts, to be realised. Rome has set 2019 budget deficit target of 2.4% of GDP, a figure that, though below the EU’s mandated ceiling of 3%, may bring the heavily indebted country into conflict with the European Commission when it presents this budget in October.
The move has been celebrated as a “historic day” by the coalition government’s deputy prime ministers, leader of the far-right League Matteo Salvini, and Luigi DiMaio, leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement who issued a joint statement, saying “We are satisfied, this is a budget for change.”
The figure is far above the more conservative 1.6% proposed by Italy’s finance minister, Giovanni Tria, who sought to reassure investors and the European Union that borrowing would be contained to sustainable levels, and on whose restraint markets had been banking.
This budget target does not meet euro area rules which require the country make an effort to reduce public debt. However, the Commission may be lenient in their application if the Italian government is seen to be implementing reforms, including infrastructure spending and a clamp down on tax evasion.
United Nations General Assembly sees Trump clash with Iran and China
The 73rd United Nations General Assembly took place this week at the UN Headquarters in New York. The leaders spoke about issues including but not limited to the Iran nuclear deal and the future of the UN Relief and Works Agency.
In response to the US leaving the Iran nuclear deal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the US would eventually re-join an international nuclear deal, saying talks this week at the United Nations showed his counterpart Donald Trump’s isolation. However, Trump responded saying that “A regime with this track record must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon,” justifying his decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal, and to reimpose the economic sanctions.
The General Assembly also saw the accusation by Trump that the Chinese government had been interfering with the midterm election result in the US. China completely denied all accusations made by Trump of them meddling in the midterm elections stating that “We did not and will not interfere in any country’s internal affairs and we refuse to accept any allegation of interference.”