News Round Up – w/c 20.3.17

Here are this week’s headlines:

Brexit set in stone by triggering of Article 50

The countdown on the two-year negotiation period has now begun, signalled by the letter handed to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, by Sir Tim Barrow, Britain’s permanent EU representative.

Teresa May made a speech shortly thereafter, in which she described Britain’s departure from the EU as “an historic moment from which there is no turning back”. She also mentioned that there is an understanding that there will be consequences, but ‘we accept that’.

EU Council president Donald Tusk admitted that it was not a “happy day” for him or the EU, but Mrs May highlighted that her government was acting on the “democratic will of the British people.”

The principles set out in the letter, which will form the basis of the negotiations between the UK and the EU, include: working towards a comprehensive trade agreement and cooperation on security, along with the desire to minimise disruption and promote certainty for citizens.

It is clear that there is much change to come; the Prime Minister has stated that “we are going to take this opportunity to build a stronger, fairer Britain”.

Nevertheless, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty allows both sides two years to come to an agreement. Providing that the UK and the remaining 27 EU member states do not agree to an extension period, the UK will leave on Friday 29th March 2019.

Read more on the BBC, Guardian and The Telegraph.

Merger of London and German Stock Exchange blocked by competition authorities

The London Stock Exchange and the German stock exchange Deutsche Börse have attempted three mergers since 2000.  The aim of this was to create a European stock market heavyweight, putting both markets in a better position to compete with American rivals. This particular deal had been worked on for over 13 months and was valued at approximately £21 billion.

However, the European Commission has blocked the deal. Their concerns state that the deal would create a de facto monopoly in the clearing of bonds and fixed-income products. The London Stock Exchange has previously stated that it was expecting this result. The exchange offered to sell its French-based clearing house, but this was rejected as not being enough. The Commission asked the exchange to also sell its shares in MTS, a fixed-income trading platform, but the exchange felt this was disproportionate. As such, the London Stock Exchange has confirmed that the deal will not be going ahead.

The deal faced a number of other concerns. Critics in Frankfurt raised concerns regarding the headquarters of the merged operation. The merged entity was to have its headquarters in London, despite the fact that the German exchange would have been the majority shareholder and the impositions raised by Britain’s vote to leave the UK.

Read more on the BBC, The Guardian or The New York Times.

Is immunity being accepted in return for Flynn to testify against Trump?

Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser of Donald Trumps was forced to resign as it is claimed that he lied about the nature of the conversations which he had with the Russian ambassador to the US. Following this, it has been alleged that the former national security adviser has offered a deal to the FBI and Senate and House intelligence committees that he would testify about potential connections between Donald Trumps campaign and Russia in exchange for his immunity. However, a spokesman for the House intelligence committee, Jack Langer, has commented on the “offer”, denying that any such offer was made by Flynn in exchange for his immunity.

Immunity is usually requested in order to avoid penalty for breaking the law. Although we can not be sure whether immunity was actually requested from Flynn, a comment from Flynn two months before the election could cause controversy on whether he is in fact guilty if immunity was asked for. Flynn stated “when you are given immunity, that means you have probably committed a crime.”

Furthermore, Flynn’s spokesperson has stated that Flynn was “the target of unsubstantiated public demands by Members of Congress and other political critics that he be criminally investigated”, but refused to comment further on other conversations he had with Trumps former national security adviser.

Read more on The Guardian.

Republicans fail to repeal Obamacare: Trump blames Democrats despite insufficient backing from his own party

Having been one of Trump’s main policies as part of his presidential campaign, the failure to repeal Obamacare is a heavy blow. The Republicans were forced to admit that they did not have enough support from within their own party, and so have pulled the repeal from the House floor. This issue has perhaps presented divisions within the Republicans, failing to show a united front at such an early stage of Trump’s presidency. Members conveyed how there was no unified republican vision of what the healthcare system should entail, leading to the failure. Some even criticised the new plans for being too similar to Obamacare. Trump made a point of blaming the Democrats for the failure of the repeal, accusing of them of refusing to contribute to a “real healthcare bill”. However he did also say that “we learned a lot about loyalty”, suggesting that he is disappointed with members of his own party. Trump has not indicated that there will be further resistance to Obamacare, but has said that he will begin to move towards tax reform.

Read more in The Guardian or Reuters.



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