ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 25/07/2019

The Guardian – Cas Mudde / Is Boris Johnson really Britain’s Trump?

  • PM Boris Johnson is being portrayed as a British equivalent of US President Donald Trump. Indeed, both men resort to reckless opportunism and a combination of homophobia, racism and sexism. And while Trump mainly lies about himself, Johnson has built a career on lying about the European Union.
  • However, there are also important differences between the American president and the British premier. While the two share a remarkable flexibility in terms of policy positions, Johnson is much more solidly Conservative than Trump is Republican.
  • Johnson is much more of a professional politician than Trump. Unlike the US president, who is largely a one-man movement that captured an establishment party with an increasingly anti-establishment electorate, Johnson is the voice of both the establishment and the anti-establishment.
  • It is this dependence on both elements of the Conservative party, which he perfectly embodies in his own political career, that will make it more likely he goes down into the history books as the shortest term prime minister rather than the prime minister who delivered Brexit.
  • Politico – Charlie Cooper, Annabelle Dickson & Emilio Casalicchio / Boris Johnson’s Day 1 revolution

Washington Post – Karoun Demirjian & Colby Itkowitz / Trump vetoes Congress’s attempt to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia

  • Yesterday, President Trump vetoed three resolutions that the US Congress passed to stop several arms sales benefiting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which the president pushed through without congressional approval.
  • Earlier this month, bipartisan majorities — but not a veto-proof majority — in the House and Senate voted to block the arms deals, worth more than $8 billion. The sales would replenish part of the Saudi arsenal that lawmakers say has been used against civilians in Yemen’s civil war.
  • “The United States is very concerned about the conflict’s toll on innocent civilians and is working to bring the conflict in Yemen to an end,” Trump said in the veto statement. “But we cannot end it through ill-conceived and time-consuming resolutions that fail to address its root causes.”
  • Congress is unlikely to have the votes to override the veto and does not have a consensus on how to proceed. On a related matter, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to vote today on two competing bipartisan bills to impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia.

South China Morning Post / North Korea launches two short-range missiles, South Korean military says, highlighting anger over military drills

  • North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the sea on Thursday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, after warnings from Pyongyang over military exercises between Washington and Seoul next month, which were scaled down to try to ease tensions.
  • The North fired the two missiles just after dawn and they flew a distance of around 430km before falling into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan. Tokyo said the launches did not reach Japanese waters.
  • North Korea condemned the joint military exercises as “blatant pressure” and a “violation of the spirit” of the joint statement Trump and Kim signed at their first summit in Singapore last year. The North even hinted it could reconsider its moratorium on nuclear testing because of the drills.
  • Adam Mount, of the Federation of American Scientists, said the latest launch was a clear indication that “North Korea’s nuclear and missile arsenals are now routinely being improved, displayed, and tested … The current bargain is: don’t test nuclear warheads or long range missiles and the United States won’t object or seriously try to stop it.”

Euractiv – Jorge Valero / Spain obstructs agreement on ‘Tobin tax’

  • According to an initial plan put forward by France and Germany, and supported by a majority of the 10 EU countries involved in developing the Financial Transaction Tax (also called “Tobin tax”), revenues will be pooled and shared among the countries, regardless of the revenues amassed by each capital.
  • The FTT would impose a 0.2% levy on shares issued by a company whose market capitalization exceeds €1 billion and its registered office is established in at least one participating member states.
  • After years of negotiations, the agreement looks within reach and could come as early as in October. But Italy and Spain disagreed with the formula to share the revenues, distributed according to the Gross National Income (GNI) of the national economies.
  • Under the original formula, Spain would have been the big loser. While its expected revenues would have reached around €498 by applying the FTT directly on its jurisdiction, the mutualization would have brought down the figure to €406 million.
  • Under a new formula that is being discussed, Spain would cut its loses to obtain €491.52 million (-6.48% less), and Italy would gain €468.86 million (-9.14% less) compared with a direct implementation of the tax on its financial markets. Although Germany and France would now bear the biggest losses, Spain remains unconvinced, and Italy has put forward an undisclosed alternative arrangement.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

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