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TOPIC: brexit

Geopolitics

Liz Truss Is The Sorry Face Of Post-Brexit Britain

Liz Truss' record-setting short time in office showed that the UK cannot do whatever it pleases — even now that it's left the EU.

-Analysis-

PARIS — The “next Margaret Thatcher” didn't stay in office very long. And in view of her radical project and personality, this is clearly no surprise — she actually had very little in common with the Iron Lady.

Liz Truss remained in 10 Downing Street for exactly 45 days, the shortest stint ever for a British prime minister. But this was already enough time to prove just how empty her economic program was.

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Giorgia Meloni Is No Real Threat To European Unity

After far-right politician Giorgia Meloni emerged as the top vote-getter in Italy's election, the question on everyone's lips is what will her relationship be with the European Union. The risk of her pushing for an Italian exit from the EU is slim.

-Analysis-

ROMEGiorgia Meloni has unquestionably earned the trust of Italians. But now she will have to work on earning the trust of the rest of the world, especially the world to which Italy belongs: the West and Europe.

Italy cannot afford political isolation, economic self-sufficiency or cultural marginalization.

"Italy first" does not represent the national interests. Not for an Atlantic, European and Mediterranean middle power that belongs to organizations scattered around the globe — a dense network of interdependencies and ties on which our security and well-being depend.

New leaders are often given a trial period on the international scene. Not so for Meloni, who will get to the prime minister seat with the Russian-Ukrainian war at the center of Europe and a pressing energy emergency.

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Why Ukrainians Have Real Doubts About Liz Truss

Britain's new prime minister has not hidden the fact that she is focused on the domestic economic crisis gripping her country. That could sway her from the hardline anti-Russia stance of outgoing prime minister, Boris Johnson. Also, Truss has flip-flopped before.

-Analysis-

KYIV — Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, then Foreign Minister Liz Truss took the same strict line as her former boss Boris Johnson. The words "push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine" belong to her.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Now that Truss is British Prime Minister, will her actions be as decisive as her words? A great advantage for Ukraine is that Truss has been keeping her finger on the pulse of international politics for a year in her role as head of the UK foreign ministry. This can, for example, significantly simplify and speed up all subsequent decisions on increasing military aid.

In July, she also said that the UK "will do everything possible to ensure Ukraine wins the war and recovers. We need to be in this for the long haul."

And yet ...

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Severodonetsk Cut Off, Extreme EU Heat, BoJo Croissant

👋 Aloha*

Welcome to Tuesday, where the Russian army destroys the three bridges connecting Severodonetsk, Spain and France are hit by record temperatures and the WHO says clean air could extend life expectancy by years. Meanwhile, Ukrainian daily Livy Bereg takes us on a tour of the pro-Ukrainian street art that has been flourishing on walls around the world.

[*Hawaiian]

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Geopolitics
Cameron Manley

Putin Is Watching: The Foreign Policy Price Of BoJo's Partygate Scandal

The damning findings of Sue Gray’s independent probe into the “partygate” scandal held No. 10 Downing St responsible for “serious failure to observe high standards.” But whether Boris Johnson is forced resign, the impact internationally should not be overlooked, particularly as it relates to the West's need to stand up to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

-Analysis-

MOSCOW — Just after the UK referendum to leave the European Union in 2016, Boris Johnson was clear about his ambitions for Britain’s international role post-Brexit: “We are not some bit part or spear-carrier on the world stage,” Johnson declared. “We are a protagonist — a global Britain running a truly global foreign policy.”

Fast-forward six years, after a stint as Theresa May’s foreign secretary, Johnson has cut a largely inconsequential (and sometimes bumbling) figure on that same world stage as Prime Minister since 2019. Now those failings are being punctuated in a whole new way, with Johnson consumed by a rolling series of home-grown scandals linked to unauthorized festivities that violated COVID-19 lockdown rules — just as the West and Moscow are locked in the most dangerous confrontation since the end of the Cold War over Russian troops massing at the Ukrainian border.

The release Monday of the findings of Sue Gray’s independent probe into the “partygate” scandal — which held No. 10 Downing Street responsible for “serious failure to observe high standards” and “failures of leadership” — hit British domestic politics with full force. Speculation the past month swirling of Johnson being forced to resign will no doubt multiply.

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Ideas
Jean-Francis Pécresse

Fishing For Trouble? Europe Must Stand Up To Boris Johnson's Bullying

The post-Brexit row of fishing rights is the last straw for not only France, but all of the European Union, who must put an end to the whims of Britain's prime minister, who seems ready to toss out years of negotiations for the divorce between the UK and EU.

-OpEd-

PARIS — The fishing war between Paris and London is on, but it would be a mistake to worry too much about it.

Of course, we should not underestimate the deterioration of relations between our two countries, especially since the UK has multiplied unfriendly and even aggressive actions against France. The level of conflict is unprecedented for the contemporary era.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

Kabul Hospital Blast, COP26 Pledges, Crypto Scam

👋 Sawubona!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where at least 15 die in an attack on a Kabul military hospital, more than 100 leaders pledge to end deforestation by 2030, and the tomb of King Ramses II's treasurer is uncovered. Meanwhile, we learn why autumn leaves aren't as red and gold as they used to be.

[*Zulu, Southern Africa]

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THE CONVERSATION
James Waller*

Northern Ireland: Born Of Strife, Erupting Again In Violence

After a century-long history of political strife, Brexit risks undoing the hard-earned two decades of reconciliation.

Sectarian rioting has returned to the streets of Northern Ireland, just weeks shy of its 100th anniversary as a territory of the United Kingdom.

For several nights, young protesters loyal to British rule – fueled by anger over Brexit, policing and a sense of alienation from the U.K. – set fires across the capital of Belfast and clashed with police. Scores have been injured.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, calling for calm, said "the way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality."

But Northern Ireland was born of violence.

Deep divisions between two identity groups – broadly defined as Protestant and Catholic – have dominated the country since its very founding. Now, roiled anew by the impact of Brexit, Northern Ireland is seemingly moving in a darker and more dangerous direction.

The island of Ireland, whose northernmost part lies a mere 13 miles from Britain, has been contested territory for at least nine centuries.

Britain long gazed with colonial ambitions on its smaller Catholic neighbor. The 12th-century Anglo-Norman invasion first brought the neighboring English to Ireland.

In the late 16th century, frustrated by continuing native Irish resistance, Protestant England implemented an aggressive plan to fully colonize Ireland and stamp out Irish Catholicism. Known as "plantations," this social engineering exercise "planted" strategic areas of Ireland with tens of thousands of English and Scottish Protestants.

Plantations offered settlers cheap woodland and bountiful fisheries. In exchange, Britain established a base loyal to the British crown – not to the Pope.

England's most ambitious plantation strategy was carried out in Ulster, the northernmost of Ireland's provinces. By 1630, according to the Ulster Historical Foundation, there were about 40,000 English-speaking Protestant settlers in Ulster.

Though displaced, the native Irish Catholic population of Ulster was not converted to Protestantism. Instead, two divided and antagonistic communities – each with its own culture, language, political allegiances, religious beliefs and economic histories – shared one region.

Over the next two centuries, Ulster's identity divide transformed into a political fight over the future of Ireland.

"Unionists' – most often Protestant – wanted Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. "Nationalists' – most often Catholic – wanted self-government for Ireland.

These fights played out in political debates, the media, sports, pubs – and, often, in street violence.

By the early 1900s, a movement of Irish independence was rising in the south of Ireland. The nationwide struggle over Irish identity only intensified the strife in Ulster.

The British government, hoping to appease nationalists in the south while protecting the interests of Ulster unionists in the north, proposed in 1920 to partition Ireland into two parts: one majority Catholic, the other Protestant-dominated – but both remaining within the United Kingdom.

Irish nationalists in the south rejected that idea and carried on with their armed campaign to separate from Britain. Eventually, in 1922, they gained independence and became the Irish Free State, today called the Republic of Ireland.

In Ulster, unionist power-holders reluctantly accepted partition as the best alternative to remaining part of Britain. In 1920, the Government of Ireland Act created Northern Ireland, the newest member of the United Kingdom.

In this new country, native Irish Catholics were now a minority, making up less than a third of Northern Ireland's 1.2 million people.

Stung by partition, nationalists refused to recognize the British state. Catholic schoolteachers, supported by church leaders, refused to take state salaries.

During the Troubles in Belfast in 1970 — Photo: Fribbler

And when Northern Ireland seated its first parliament in May 1921, nationalist politicians did not take their elected seats in the assembly. The Parliament of Northern Ireland became, essentially, Protestant – and its pro-British leaders pursued a wide variety of anti-Catholic practices, discriminating against Catholics in public housing, voting rights and hiring.

By the 1960s, Catholic nationalists in Northern Ireland were mobilizing to demand more equitable governance. In 1968, police responded violently to a peaceful march to protest inequality in the allocation of public housing in Derry, Northern Ireland's second-largest city. In 60 seconds of unforgettable television footage, the world saw water cannons and baton-wielding officers attack defenseless marchers without restraint.

On Jan. 30, 1972, during another civil rights march in Derry, British soldiers opened fire on unarmed marchers, killing 14. This massacre, known as Bloody Sunday, marked a tipping point. A nonviolent movement for a more inclusive government morphed into a revolutionary campaign to overthrow that government and unify Ireland.

The Irish Republican Army, a nationalist paramilitary group, used bombs, targeted assassinations and ambushes to pursue independence from Britain and reunification with Ireland.

Longstanding paramilitary groups that were aligned with pro-U.K. political forces reacted in kind. Known as loyalists, these groups colluded with state security forces to defend Northern Ireland's union with Britain.

Euphemistically known as "the troubles," this violence claimed 3,532 lives from 1968 to 1998.

The troubles subsided in April 1998 when the British and Irish governments, along with major political parties in Northern Ireland, signed a landmark U.S.-brokered peace accord. The Good Friday Agreement established a power-sharing arrangement between the two sides and gave the Northern Irish parliament more authority over domestic affairs.

The peace agreement made history. But Northern Ireland remained deeply fragmented by identity politics and paralyzed by dysfunctional governance, according to my research on risk and resilience in the country.

Violence has periodically flared up since.

Then, in 2020, came Brexit. Britain's negotiated withdrawal from the European Union created a new border in the Irish Sea that economically moved Northern Ireland away from Britain and toward Ireland.

Leveraging the instability caused by Brexit, nationalists have renewed calls for a referendum on formal Irish reunification.

For unionists loyal to Britain, that represents existential threat. Young loyalists born after the height of the troubles are particularly fearful of losing a British identity that has always been theirs.

Recent spasms of street disorder suggest they will defend that identity with violence, if necessary. In some neighborhoods, nationalist youths have countered with violence of their own.

In its centenary year, Northern Ireland teeters on the edge of a painfully familiar precipice.

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Geopolitics
Louisa Benchabane

Post-Brexit, Tech And Trucks Make Port Of Calais 'Smarter'

The customs border between the UK and the EU is back, with new rules and regulations, an influx of hastily trained agents, and a technology overhaul.

CALAIS — In the cab of his lorry, Maciej desperately waits to leave the port of Calais, in northern France, to return to his homeland, Poland, where his shipment of chocolate is to be delivered.

"Today is a holiday in my country, so a miracle is required to get people to answer my questions and help me get back on the road as soon as possible," the driver says. He has gone through the Channel crossing many times, but this is the first time since the post-Brexit border was implemented.

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Geopolitics
Daniel Fortin

Boris Johnson And The Collapse Of Chaos-As-Leadership

As the sudden arrival of harsh new lockdown restrictions and the closing of borders in European countries coincides with down-to-the-wire Brexit talks, BoJo is facing an all-time low in public confidence.

For nearly a year now, we have been cautious — even indulgent — when it comes to criticizing the way political leaders are handling this exceptional pandemic with the malicious whims that come with a novel virus. But whether we like it or not, the scale of this crisis also serves as an incomparable tool for measuring the leadership skills of any given head of state or government.

Most observers now agree that Donald Trump's casual handling of the pandemic probably cost him his reelection. And now, another prominent leader is coming under fire for adding chaos upon the chaos. We will remember for a long time the pictures of British or foreign travelers rushing this weekend to the stations to try to escape London where a new lockdown was introduced without warning on Saturday night. Only a few, including in his own party, still defend Prime Minister Boris Johnson who seems once again to be indecisive and inconsistent.

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Geopolitics
Étienne Lefebvre

Brexit Deadline: Time For The EU To Call Boris Johnson's Bluff

London is using the fishing issue in hopes of breaking the EU's united front.

-OpEd-

PARIS — The UK and EU are going from crunch time to overtime in their drawn-out Brexit talks — exactly as the British government had planned. This is what they sought from the start, this moment when everything is tense, when the pressure rises in the European capitals, putting solidarity between member states to the test.

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LA STAMPA
Eugenia Tognotti

Boris, Brexit And That Petty Claim Of Vaccine 'Victory'

Britain's race to be the first deploy the vaccine may be an attempt to whitewash their initial disastrous handling of this pandemic — not to mention the debacle of leaving the European Union.

-Analysis-

TURIN — What is there to say? Let's give the UK and its Prime Minister Boris Johnson the satisfaction of being the first country to have approved a COVID-19 vaccine and to start mass inoculation. The news broke on Wednesday, when the UK government announced that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had been fully approved, beating even the US across the finishing line, and the country would start to deploy it within days.

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