Theresa May is a ‘dead woman walking,’ says former chancellor George Osborne

The Guardian reports: George Osborne has called Theresa May “a dead woman walking” and suggested the prime minister would be forced to resign imminently.

The former chancellor said the campaign had undone the work of himself and former prime minister David Cameron in winning socially liberal seats such as a Bath, Brighton Kemptown and Oxford East, now lost to Labour and the Lib Dems.

“She is a dead woman walking and the only question is how long she remains on death row,” the editor of the Evening Standard said, defending his paper’s attacks on May as speaking from a “socially liberal, pro-business, economically liberal position” that he said had been consistent as editor and chancellor. [Continue reading…]

The Guardian reports: Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour will invite parties to defeat the government and vote for Labour’s manifesto in a “substantial amendment” to the Queen’s speech, as well as suggesting the party would also kill off the ”great repeal bill”.

“We are ready and able to put forward a serious programme which has great support in this country,” he said, though the Labour leader conceded his party “didn’t win the election”.

“We are going to put down a substantial amendment to the Queen’s speech which will be the main points of our manifesto so we will invite the House to consider all the issues we’ve put forward – jobs-first Brexit, policies for young people and on austerity,” he said. [Continue reading…]

Bloomberg reports: U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s hopes of clinging to power were dealt a fresh blow after her office was forced to admit that it hadn’t, after all, reached a deal to govern with the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, hours after announcing that it had.

May’s office said at 7.30 p.m. on Saturday it had “agreed to the principles of an outline agreement” in which the DUP would back the Conservatives on some key votes, ensuring the premier has a majority in the House of Commons. At midnight, the DUP said the talks would continue next week, and a half-hour later, the premier’s office issued another statement, saying that the accord hadn’t yet been finalized. [Continue reading…]

 

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Drop hard Brexit plans, demand MPs

The Observer reports: Senior Tory and Labour MPs called on Theresa May to forge a new cross-party approach to Brexit as fears grew that the prime minister’s weakness could lead to the imminent collapse of talks on the UK’s exit from the European Union.

In a dramatic demonstration of May’s loss of authority, as a result of Thursday’s general election – which stripped her of a Commons majority – the MPs demanded that she in effect drop her own Tory “hard Brexit” plans in favour of a new “national” consenus, that would be endorsed by members from all sides of the House of Commons.

The proposal, if adopted, would throw open the debate on what kind of Brexit the country wants, with just a week to go before May is due to lead the country in formal negotiations with the EU on the terms of exit.

It comes as senior EU figures expressed their concerns that the process could collapse because of May’s lack of authority in what are bound to be many months of tough and complex talks. A leading Christian Democrat ally of the German chancellor Angela Merkel – the MEP Elmar Brok – told the Observer that the chances of a collapse in the talks had significantly increased. “The British people saw through her [May]. The negotiations have become more difficult because Britain has not got a government of real authority,” he said.

May went to the country asking for a mandate on Brexit only to lose her Commons majority. In an intervention that will alarm hardline pro-Brexit Tories, the former foreign office minister Alistair Burt, backed by ex-education secretary Nicky Morgan and other pro-EU Tories, said Brexit could only be agreed and delivered if the Conservative minority government built cross-party support behind a plan that would unite politicians and the country. [Continue reading…]

The Observer reports: Theresa May had set Britain on a course for a hard Brexit, prioritising sovereignty at the expense of close economic ties. Nevertheless, most EU governments had hoped she would win big on 8 June, so that she would be strong enough to face down the Tory right in pushing through painful compromises. They now face a prime minister whose authority is crumbling. Yet the general election makes the prospect of a softer Brexit plausible.

May’s instincts are probably to keep pushing for the hard Brexit that her right wing desires. But there is no parliamentary majority for a hard Brexit. Just a few pro-EU Tories could join opposition MPs to defeat May. If she wants to pass the Brexit deal – and the many Brexit-related laws that are required – she will have to collaborate with Labour and other opposition MPs.

Such a volte-face would be uncharacteristic of May. But if she doesn’t reinvent herself as a soft Brexiter, it is hard to see how she can stay in office. And if she falls, her successor will find that survival means working with the opposition to achieve a softer version of Brexit. [Continue reading…]

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Theresa May and the revenge of the Remainers

Anne Applebaum writes: Theresa May had a plan: Steal the policies of Britain’s “far right” — the U.K. Independence Party — and then steal their voters, too. Since she took office about a year ago, the formerly moderate British prime minister attacked foreigners, jeered at the European Union and held Donald Trump’s hand. In April, she called an early general election, confident that UKIP voters would now endorse her “hard Brexit” and her watered-down English Tory populism.

Never mind that the moderate centrism of her predecessor, David Cameron, won a Conservative Party majority only two years ago. Never mind that she herself has offered few details about Brexit and what it will mean: May called this a “Brexit election,” declared herself the “strong and stable” candidate, promised tough negotiations with Europe and clearly expected to win a larger majority.

Yes, May had a plan — but it was a plan designed for her base. She ignored the 48 percent of the country that did not vote for Brexit, calling them “citizens of nowhere.” She ignored the anxiety that Brexit has created and the economic consequences that are now just beginning to bite. She ignored younger people, who preferred to stay in the E.U. last year and now prefer the Labour Party to the Tories by a huge margin, 63 percent to 27 percent.

May also assumed that the centrists and moderates who had voted Conservative in 2015 and to “Remain” in Europe in 2016 would have to vote for her because they would have nowhere else to go. They couldn’t possibly vote for Jeremy Corbyn, the quasi-Marxist, left-wing Labour Party leader who campaigned on high taxes for the rich, heavy spending and deep skepticism toward Britain’s traditional defense and foreign policies. They couldn’t possibly prefer a Labour Party that is itself divided over Brexit. But as the campaign went on, as May grew stiffer and more prone to error, as her “strong and stable” tagline wore thin, a lot of people in the floating center looked at Corbyn and thought, “Is he really that much worse?”

And the result? Remainers’ revenge. [Continue reading…]

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Conservatives successfully resist the drive for Scottish independence

Reuters reports: Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has delivered the party’s biggest success in Scotland in a generation, leading a dogged charge against independence from the United Kingdom that has left the nationalist movement reeling.

Davidson, whose colourful humour and approachability has won her many fans, notched up the Conservatives’ best result since 1983 north of the border. She may yet prove key to choosing a new leader to replace the party’s nationwide leader, Prime Minister Theresa May, whose future is now in question.

With an easy, raucous laugh, she is a self-described “shovel-faced lesbian”, a literature graduate and a former journalist who says the army taught her the art of leadership when she was a reservist.

Davidson, 38, has unapologetically stood up for the United Kingdom.

“I’ve never been afraid of debate and clash and think that’s part of it. It’s important that the Conservative voice isn’t delegitimised,” she told Reuters prior to the election.

In Britain’s constantly shifting political landscape, she has reached Scottish voters by sticking to a message they not only understand but care about, as well as being more ordinary than the elite associated with her party 400 miles (644 km) down south in London.

“I’m proud to be Scottish and British and female and gay and Christian and Conservative and a Fifer and fond of chips, a fan of “Hamilton” the musical and to prefer dogs to cats,” she told an audience at the Orwell Foundation last month. [Continue reading…]

 

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Ruth Davidson planning Scottish Tory breakaway as she challenges Theresa May’s Brexit plan

The Telegraph reports: Ruth Davidson is to defy Theresa May’s plans for a hard Brexit and tear her Scottish party away from English control after the UK Tories’ disastrous General Election result.

Amid a growing clamour among senior Tories in London for Ms Davidson to be given a top position in the UK party, her aides are working on a deal that would see the Scottish party break away to form a separate organisation.

It would maintain a close relationship with the English party – they have been joined together as part of the United Kingdom Conservative and Unionist Party since 1965 – and its 13 MPs would take the Tory whip at the Commons.

Although it has been mooted for some time, the imminent split between the Scottish and English parties is a direct result of a dramatic deterioration in relations between the Scottish Tory hierarchy in Edinburgh and 10 Downing Street.

Fresh from her success in winning an extra 12 Scottish seats in Thursday’s election, at the same time as the Prime Minister was losing 21 constituencies in England, Ms Davidson also vowed to use her Commons votes to prioritise the single market over curbing immigration.

This is certain to split Tory ranks as Mrs May has pledged to take the UK out of both the single market and the EU customs union as part of her Brexit negotiations, which begin next week. [Continue reading…]

Interesting report — although Davidson’s succinct response calls into question the report’s accuracy:

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Theresa May’s Brexit strategy lies in ruins

Simon Jenkins writes: The clock is ticking on the two-year Brexit countdown, with just 10 days to go to fiendishly urgent talks on its modality. May’s tactic appeared to be to enter those talks armour-plated against domestic trouble from both her right and left, or at least from advocates of hard and soft Brexit. That tactic, however plausible, lies in ruins.

How the EU’s negotiators will react is hard to predict. They must be dismayed at the prospect of weakened British negotiators vulnerable to constant carping and second-guessing by a hung British parliament. Some are already suggesting a postponement of the talks. It is hard to see that helping.

Meanwhile it is likely that in coming months a “remainist” or perhaps “softest” fifth column will open up across parliament and among the lobbyists. The collapse of Ukip and the probable increase in emboldened remain MPs clearly undermines whatever May’s “hard Brexit” stance was meant to achieve. In the Commons there should now be a majority behind Corbyn’s view, that no deal is worse than a soft deal.

The British team’s absurdist machismo in advance of talks has never rung true – and would appear to have cut little ice even with a post-referendum electorate. Coupled with the result itself, this should tilt the balance towards a more accommodating approach on both sides. The EU and Britain must clearly compromise, to honour last year’s referendum yet without the manifest shambles of a negotiating failure.

Common sense indicates that, at the day’s end, Britain must somehow stay within the regulatory regime of a European customs union. Since that would leave migration as the chief bone of contention, and since some deal on the movement of workers is vital for British industry, it is now possible to see negotiations slithering towards a “Norwegian” version of a single market. If so, this election could prove a blessing, albeit in heavy disguise. [Continue reading…]

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A case for Jeremy Corbyn

Roger Cohen writes: For a long time I could not bring myself to write about the British election. Trump-coddling, self-important, flip-flopping Theresa May, ensconced at 10 Downing Street without ever being elected prime minister, was going to sweep to her hard-Brexit victory and take the country down her little England rabbit hole.

There were more important things to think about, like the end of the American century in 2017, one hundred years after the Bolshevik Revolution. A boorish clown named Donald Trump brought down the curtain.

In Britain, anyway, there was no story: The June 8 vote was a formality. The Labour Party was in meltdown, having exited the Blairite middle ground for leftist orthodoxy under Jeremy Corbyn. The British, their ludicrous vote to leave the European Union gradually sinking in, had morphed into sheep. May would get her mandate to do her worst, with Boris Johnson, a foreign secretary who long since forsook any claim to be taken seriously, cheering her on.

Then came two unspeakable terrorist attacks, one in Manchester and one in London. As I’ve argued before, the Islamic State should be driven out of Raqqa, whatever it takes (and if you have any doubt, watch Matthew Heineman’s new movie “City of Ghosts” about the citizen-journalist group “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.”) Iniquity has its capital. From there it will emanate until crushed.

Of course Trump tried to make cheap political capital from the blood on London’s streets. He quoted London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, out of context in a flurry of tweets aimed at buttressing the case for his bigotry. The president of the United States just felt like insulting a prominent Muslim.

Trump bears about the same relationship to dignity as carbon dioxide to clean air. And this is the man May and Johnson have coddled, in the name of offsetting the Brexit debacle with increased U.S. trade.

Johnson, by the way, assured the world a couple of months back that British seduction of Trump had been so effective that efforts to convince the president not to quit the Paris climate accord “will succeed.” After all, Trump had been offered a state visit, horse-drawn carriage, the queen; all that British pomp for His Neediness. We know what the word of Johnson, who was for the European Union before he was against it, is worth. It’s worth zilch. No wonder Trump’s finger-to-the-planet Paris decision prompted scarcely a British whimper. [Continue reading…]

Polls close at 10pm local time.

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Canada is now openly questioning the future of U.S. leadership

The Atlantic reports: First European Council President Donald Tusk described Donald Trump as a threat to European unity. Next German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that Germany could no longer “completely depend” on America, noting that “We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.” Then, in vowing to “make our planet great again,” French President Emmanuel Macron seized the leadership role on climate change vacated by the United States.

Now signs of tectonic shifts in the Western alliance are cropping up across the Atlantic. On Tuesday—against the backdrop of Trump’s condemnation of NAFTA, withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, and chilly summit with NATO leaders, all three of which have put the U.S. at odds with its northern neighbor—Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland delivered a remarkable address in the House of Commons. At times, it almost sounded like she was bidding farewell to a retiring superpower, even as she held out hope that the superpower would agree to stay on a while longer. She never mentioned Trump by name. But the speech was a forceful rebuttal to Trump’s view of how the world should work.

Many American voters in last year’s presidential election were “animated in part by a desire to shrug off the burden of world leadership,” Freeland told Canadian lawmakers. “To say this is not controversial: it is simply a fact.” [Continue reading…]

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Angela Merkel hopes to forge an international alliance against Trump

Der Spiegel reports: Many had thought that Trump could be controlled once he entered the White House, that the office of the presidency would bring him to reason. Berlin had placed its hopes in the moderating influence of his advisers and that there would be a sharp learning curve. Now that Trump has actually lived up to his threat to leave the climate deal, it is clear that if such a learning curve exists, it points downward.

The chancellor was long reluctant to make the rift visible. For Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, the alliance with the U.S. was always more than political calculation, it reflected her deepest political convictions. Now, she has — to a certain extent, at least — terminated the trans-Atlantic friendship with Trump’s America.

In doing so, the German chancellor has become Trump’s adversary on the international stage. And Merkel has accepted the challenge when it comes to trade policy and the quarrel over NATO finances. Now, she has done so as well on an issue that is near and dear to her heart: combating climate change.

Merkel’s aim is that of creating an alliance against Trump. If she can’t convince the U.S. president, her approach will be that of trying to isolate him. In Taormina, it was six countries against one. Should Trump not reverse course, she is hoping that the G-20 in Hamburg in July will end 19:1. Whether she will be successful is unclear.

Trump has identified Germany as his primary adversary. Since his inauguration in January, he has criticized no country — with the exception of North Korea and Iran — as vehemently as he has Germany. The country is “bad, very bad,” he said in Brussels last week. Behind closed doors at the NATO summit, Trump went after Germany, saying there were large and prosperous countries that were not living up to their alliance obligations.

And he wants to break Germany’s economic power. The trade deficit with Germany, he recently tweeted, is “very bad for U.S. This will change.”

Merkel’s verdict following Trump’s visit to Europe could hardly be worse. There has never been an open break with America since the end of World War II; the alienation between Germany and the U.S. has never been so large as it is today. When Merkel’s predecessor, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, refused to provide German backing for George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, his rebuff was limited to just one single issue. It was an extreme test of the trans-Atlantic relationship, to be sure, but in contrast to today, it was not a quarrel that called into question commonly held values like free trade, minority rights, press freedoms, the rule of law — and climate policies. [Continue reading…]

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The vulgar realism of Rex Tillerson’s State Department

Daniel W. Drezner writes: Unfortunately, my prediction from last week has come true, and the European leg of President Trump’s first overseas trip did not go well at all:

Germany’s foreign minister launched a scathing criticism of Donald Trump on Monday, claiming the US President’s actions have “weakened” the West and accusing the US government of standing “against the interests of the European Union.”

Just 24 hours after German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that Europe could no longer completely rely on traditional allies such as the US and Britain, the country’s top diplomat, Sigmar Gabriel, went a step further.

“Anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk,” Gabriel said.

In previous months, Trump’s rhetorical and policy screw-ups were customarily followed by his foreign policy Cabinet cleaning up the mess that was made. In this case, however, it’s been nearly 48 hours since Angela Merkel vocalized her distrust of the Trump administration, and nary a word has been heard from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Instead, the columns explaining why this is really bad just keep proliferating. [Continue reading…]

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Macron gets under Putin’s skin, shows up Trump

Christopher Dickey writes: Russian President Vladimir Putin, the wily KGB veteran, the intruder into the West’s democratic elections, the smug defender of dictators and would-be ally of Donald Trump, looked like he wanted to hide behind the curtains in the Hall of Battles at Versailles.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who is only 39 years old and took office just two weeks ago, was calm, cool, collected, and in complete control at their joint press conference Monday afternoon. He talked about the need for dialogue. But he didn’t hesitate for a second to state bluntly and publicly the priorities of France defending Western ideals, Western democracy, and, when it came down to specifics, he took firm positions on everything from Syria and Ukraine to LGBT rights in Chechnya, as well as the need to defend civil society in Russia.

Which is not to say that Macron was undiplomatic. At every turn—almost—he offered a way for Putin to save face by saying that where they differed there is nonetheless a continuing conversation. Even when asked about Russian attempts to influence the French elections by hacking the Macron campaign, Macron said that was something they had spoken about when Putin called him to congratulate him after his victory on May 7. “Now we are moving ahead,” said Macron.

But when asked why, as The Daily Beast was the first to report in April, the Macron campaign banned from its offices reporters for RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik, two of Putin’s pet state-funded media, Macron didn’t hesitate a moment:

“Russia Today and Sputnik have been tools of influence, and they spread untruths about my person and my campaign,” said Macron. “On that point I’m not going to give an inch. Russia Today and Sputnik did not behave like organs of the press and of journalism, but as organs of lying propaganda.”

Whew.

Putin may have been expecting the fresh-faced French president to give him a warmer welcome. The invitation to come to France and open an exhibit at the Palace of Versailles devoted to the visit of Peter the Great three centuries ago was extended only two weeks back, after Macron became president. The two leaders had not expected to meet until the G20 in Germany in July. But Putin jumped at the chance to take the measure of the ingenue head of state.

He probably could not have anticipated—few people had—that Macron would grow so quickly into his job: wowing the cameras and his counterparts at the G7 in Sicily last week; exploiting a death-grip handshake with Trump by telling a reporter there was nothing “innocent” about it; and strolling through the streets of Taormina with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the image of new (very un-Trumpian) global leadership. [Continue reading…]

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Theresa May accused of being ‘Trump’s mole’ in Europe after UK tries to water down EU climate change policy

The Independent reports: Theresa May has been accused of being Donald Trump’s “mole” in Europe after leaked documents showed the UK attempted to water down EU policies designed to tackle climate change.

While other European politicians have made clear to the Republican billionaire that his denial of climate science is a problem, the Prime Minister has remained resolutely silent on the issue.

Her visit to Washington – when the two leaders were pictured holding hands – was widely regarded as an attempt to build a strong relationship with Mr Trump, despite concerns about his attitudes towards women, migrants, Islam, Vladimir Putin’s Russia and other issues.

The leaked documents, obtained by Greenpeace’s Energydesk, show the UK tried to make a policy designed to improve energy efficiency – reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making goods cheaper to run for consumers – voluntary rather than mandatory.

It also essentially argued EU member states should be allowed to make no progress at all towards a 2030 target on renewable energy until the last moment.

Barry Gardiner, the shadow International Trade Secretary, who speaks on climate change issues as a result of Ms May’s decision to scrap the dedicated climate change Cabinet post, told The Independent: “After the G7 [meeting], the word was put out that six countries were on track, pursuing the objective of the Paris Agreement. Only one country, America, was out of step.

“That simply has been proven not to be the case by this leak, which shows Donald Trump actually has a mole within the EU and that mole is the UK.

“The UK is, behind the scenes, trying to water down the commitments and make them voluntary instead of mandatory.”

He said the changes proposed by the UK were not “cosmetic” – to make targets “aspirational”, rather than legally enforceable, was “ridiculous”. [Continue reading…]

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‘Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands,’ says Merkel

The New York Times reports: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Europe’s most influential leader, has concluded, after three days of trans-Atlantic meetings, that the United States of President Trump is not the reliable partner her country and the Continent have automatically depended on in the past.

Clearly disappointed with Mr. Trump’s reluctance to publicly endorse NATO’s doctrine of collective defense — or to agree to common European positions on Russia, climate change or global trade — Ms. Merkel said in Munich on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as steadfast as they once were, and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.”

Her strong comments were a further indication that Mr. Trump’s trip did not go down well with major European leaders and seems to have increased trans-Atlantic strains rather than diminished them.

“This seems to be the end of an era, one in which the United States led and Europe followed,” said Ivo H. Daalder, a former United States ambassador to NATO who is now the director of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Today, the United States is heading into a direction on key issues that seems diametrically opposite of where Europe is heading. Merkel’s comments are an acknowledgment of that new reality.”

Ms. Merkel, who did not mention Mr. Trump by name, also spoke of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, which means the bloc will lose its second-largest economy and one of its two nuclear powers. Britain’s departure, or “Brexit,” will also weaken trans-Atlantic ties and leave the Continent more exposed than before.

“The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are somewhat over,” Ms. Merkel said, speaking on the campaign trail after a contentious NATO summit meeting in Brussels and a Group of 7 meeting in Italy. “This is what I experienced in the last few days.” [Continue reading…]

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Trump struts onto the world stage only to become a laughingstock

When the word from his own staff inside the White House is that Donald Trump is increasingly being viewed as “a complete moron,” it should come as no surprise that outside the U.S. he now commands just as little respect.

Having been duly flattered by the Saudis with a reception fit for a king, Trump not only showered them with weapons, but also added his own unexpected diplomatic touch by offering his host an impromptu curtsy:

 

Having proffered the deference that Trump obviously thought royalty expects, he then adjusted the gold bauble for comfort as though then wondering: did I get to keep this? I want to show it to Don King.

Had Trump followed Barack Obama’s example eight years ago, he would have realized that gold ornaments do not sit well on the shoulders of a dignified American president.

 

Susan Glasser writes: Many [of the European officials] I spoke with said they had made a fundamental mistake of viewing Trump primarily as an ideologue with whom they disagreed rather than what he increasingly appears to be: an ill-prepared newcomer to the world stage, with uninformed views and a largely untested team that will now be sorely tried by a 9-day, 5-stop world tour that would be wildly ambitious even for a seasoned global leader.

“People are less worried than they were six weeks ago, less afraid,” a senior German government official with extensive experience in the United States told me. “Now they see the clownish nature.” Or, as another German said on the sidelines of a meeting here devoted to taking stock of 70 years of U.S.-German relations, “People here think Trump is a laughingstock.”

“The dominant reaction to Trump right now is mockery,” Jacob Heilbrunn, the editor of the conservative journal the National Interest, told the meeting at the German Foreign Office here while moderating a panel on Trump’s foreign policy that dealt heavily on the difficulty of divining an actual policy amid the spectacle. Heilbrunn, whose publication hosted Trump’s inaugural foreign policy speech in Washington during last year’s campaign, used the ‘L’ word too. “The Trump administration is becoming an international laughingstock.” Michael Werz, a German expert from the liberal U.S. think tank Center for American Progress, agreed, adding he was struck by “how rapidly the American brand is depreciating over the last 20 weeks.” [Continue reading…]

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A new Yalta and the revival of Europe

Roger Cohen writes: In the end the French election turned on the most unlikely of subjects: Europe. Yes, the ugly European duckling of 2016 politics — rejected by Britain, mocked by President Trump — ushered Emmanuel Macron into the Élysée Palace as France’s youngest president.

Macron, throughout his campaign, was strong in his support of the European Union and its shared currency, the euro. That was risky; identification with the European Union hardly seemed a winning ticket. But it was precisely on the euro and the union that Marine Le Pen, the rightist candidate of the National Front, committed public political suicide.

In the final TV debate, days before this month’s vote, she babbled and blundered for minutes on end about Europe and its currency. It was, as Macron put it, “du n’importe quoi” — roughly meaningless garbage. And it was garbage that touched the French in a very sensitive area: their pocketbooks.

The French, unlike Americans, don’t talk about money but they think about it as much as anyone else.

Le Pen confused the euro and the ECU (a basket of European currencies once used as a unit of account); she seemed to think Britain had been in the euro and made the wild claim that Brexit had sent the British economy skyrocketing; she blabbered about the coexistence of a restored franc for French people and a euro for big companies; she appeared to decree that other nations would leave the euro at the same time as her France. She accused Macron of “submission to European federalism.”

The retort was swift. It was also devastating because the French, it turns out, are attached to the euro. Macron said the value of people’s savings would plunge 20 to 30 percent the day after a return to the franc. He asked how anyone from the producer of Cantal cheese to Airbus — small or large enterprises fully integrated in the European economy — would function once compelled to do their foreign transactions in euros and pay their employees’ salaries in francs. He predicted the return of capital controls as people rushed to get money out of the country.

Le Pen gaped at him, laughed inappropriately, fired increasingly wild and unrelated salvos, and generally seemed on the verge of total meltdown. It was the end. Europe had killed her. For any Europhile, and I proudly wear that badge, it was the sweetest of moments after a rough passage. [Continue reading…]

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Over 100,000 community events to mark first anniversary of Jo Cox’s death

The Guardian reports: A scarecrow festival, a “deep fat friar” medieval lunch and a Ramadan meal in a church hosted by Syrian refugees are among the community events due to take place to mark the first anniversary of the murder of Jo Cox.

More than 100,000 events are expected to be held across the UK as part of The Great Get Together, organised by the Jo Cox Foundation. Organisers hope it will be the biggest number of community events since the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

Cox was stabbed and shot outside her constituency surgery in Batley and Spen, West Yorkshire, on 16 June last year by Thomas Mair. The weekend of events will take place between 16 and 18 June, with picnics, street parties and iftar, the meal eaten by Muslims to break their fast during Ramadan.

They have been organised in conjunction with The Big Lunch, an annual event that aims to combat loneliness with communal meals and activities.

In Leeds, a group of Syrian refugees will host an iftar at a local church and provide free meals to homeless people. Other events include a teddy bears’ picnic in Hartlepool, a scarecrow festival in Ilkley and a medieval lunch in Coventry.

A street party will also take place in Cox’s former constituency. It is hoped that a party in London’s Olympic Park will attract up to 10,000 participants.

Brendan Cox, the widower of the murdered MP, said he was “amazed and humbled” by the numbers who had responded to calls to mark the anniversary. “I think the huge response is because we’re tapping into the national mood,” he said. [Continue reading…]

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