N KOREA/MISSILE –  N Korea is thought to be preparing to launch a ballistic missile ahead of a joint naval drill by the United States and South Korea. (see diary). The Dong-A Ilbo news outlet says South Korean government sources believe that satellite pictures show ballistic missiles mounted on launchers being transported out of hangars near Pyongyang and North Pyongan province.

GERMANY/ELECTION – Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) won the election in the northern state of Lower Saxony according to an early exit poll which gave it 37% of the vote. The Christian Democrats were on 35%  the Greens 8, the FDP 7.5 and Alternative for Germany 5.5.  The hard-left Linke party won 4.5% and so misses the 5%  threshold to enter the regional parliament.

IRAQ/KURDS – Thousands of Iraqi troops and Kurdish forces remain in a tense standoff in the disputed province of Kirkuk. Gunfire has been exchanged in the ethnically mixed town of Tuzkurmatu. Baghdad insists Kurdish forces to surrender positions in the area seized from the Islamic State in the previous three years.

YEMEN/INDEPENDENCE – Yemeni separatists will soon announce an independence referendum for southern Yemen says the former Yemeni governor of Aden Aiderous al-Zubaidi.

NATO/RUSSIA – NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned Russia against intervening in Libya as it did in Syria.

CHINA/USA – The Chinese Embassy in Washington has lodged a complaint threatening the U.S. Congress with “severe consequences” if it passes recently introduced legislation that strengthens U.S. ties with Taiwan.

Coming Up –

D Day, or Deadline Day if you prefer, for the UK and EU comes on Friday. The EU heads of government spend the day deciding if enough progress has been made to move Brexit negotiations on to the details of a trade deal. If Yes, then on we go.  If NO – then back to negotiations with the increased possibility of no deal which would hurt everyone.

Before that the biggest set piece of the week begins. China opens its 19th Party Congress on Wednesday. The Congress only meets every five years as it takes a long time to prepare for a great leap forward… This year 2,300 delegates plus assistants are coming to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Congress elects new Central Committee and Politburo members and if those expected to be appointed in fact are – then President Xi Jinping will have confirmed his complete control over the government. Some China watchers say this is the most important Congress since the Cultural Revolution.

DIARY –

Mon –  Deadline for Catalonia’s President to clarify if he has or has not declared independence from Spain. (See below)

Mon – S Korea and the USA begin a 10-day joint naval drill in waters east and west of South Korea. The exercise will include the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.

Mon– EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels. This is a chance for the EU to loudly declare opposition to President Trump’s refusal to back the Iran nuclear deal and then do it again at the Heads of Government meeting. (See below)

Tues –  President Trump hosts Greek PM Alexis Tspiras.  Greece remains heavily in debt to the IMF and the EU, but is showing signs of growth after years of recession.

Weds – Angela Merkel’s CDU/CDS partnership begins formal negotiations with Greens and Free Democratic Party to try and form a coalition government. It could take weeks.

Thurs – If Catalonia has declared independence – this is the deadline to reverse the decision. If not Madrid may impose direct role and call a snap general election.

Thurs – Indian religious festival of Diwali.

Friday – EU Heads of Government meeting.

Sun – Northern Italian regions of Veneto and Lombardy hold non-binding referendum on fiscal autonomy from Italy.

Sun –  INTERNATIONAL HONOUR THE CAPS LOCK BUTTON DAY.

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1 Comment on "Things We Lost In The Mire – 41"

  1. The level of threat from a Jens Stoltenberg warning is about equivalent to the threat Ronnie Corbett used to pose at corner kicks.

    The interesting thing about the meltdown that some politicians and business leaders are having at the idea of Britain trading with Europe on WTO rules is that they are choosing to ignore the findings of the treasury report (commissioned by George Osbourne) into how just such an eventuality would affect the UK. It is a report that the these same people lauded during the referendum campaign. The report explored three scenarios, EEA mebership, a bilateral deal and WTO rules, it estimated that by 2030 the difference to the UK economy between striking a deal and the WTO route would be 1.2% of GDP.

    If reports on the withdrawal bill being demanded by the EU are true then they are asking for £55bn. It would require approximately £175bn of GDP to generate the tax revenue to make that payment, that’s 9% of UK GDP. Put that way you can see why the UK government are unwilling to countenance that sort of payment to get a deal. It is only £1bn less than last years corporation tax receipts, is more than the education budget, more than the defence and home office budget combined, it would pay the cost of unemployment benefit at the current level for 27 years!.

    I actually do think we should honour our liabilities to the EU, but minus the value of our share of the assets that we are leaving behind to them, which let’s be honest have largely been funded by the German and British taxpayer over the years.
    JCJ’s drinks analogy would have been more accurate had he pointed out the person leaving the bar had bought the last five rounds.

    The danger we do now have with the prospect of no deal and WTO rules is that we are not prepared for it. Successive Tory governments have been unforgivably negligent in not planning for that eventuality despite seemingly having time to piss about doing very little for nine months before triggering article 50 and then indulging themselves for a further two months with an election campaign. Chaos on leaving under WTO rules was certainly not inevitable had this process been handled professionally, alas that was too much to ask it seems.

    The whole process has been farcical, I can well understand why some out there feel it is just an extended charade to be used as cover to justify an eventual decision to remain in the EU. That to some probably seems more comforting than facing up to the fact that our country is run by people you wouldn’t trust to make a cup of tea. Worryingly, you look across the benches and it gets no better. If John McDonnell was serious in his assertion that Labour plan to push to amend legislation so the Government can’t walk away from negotiations then it really will be the cherry on top of the cake of stupidity. Anyone who can’t see why this is a totally idiotic idea has obviously never haggled over anything in their lives, or if they have, then they most certainly will have come away paying way over the odds.

    Amidst the wholesale clowning that constitutes the Trump presidency it is sometimes easy to forget that there was a reason why he won the election. Luckily that reason was in the UK last week promoting her book. A reminder that whichever way they voted, the US public were going to be very badly served.

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