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Irish PM Leo Varadkar calls for ‘real detail’ from Theresa May on Brexit

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The Irish Prime Minister has called on the UK Government to provide “real detail” in its Brexit position as he arrived at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

“I think we are well beyond the point of aspirations and principles. We need detail,” Leo Varadkar said.

“Hopefully when the Prime Minister speaks next week the UK will be more clear about what it wants in terms of the new relationship and will back that up with real detail; detail that can be written into a legal treaty with the EU,” Mr Varadkar said.

:: May faces prospect of fresh Brexit rebellion

Speaking to Sky News on their arrival at the summit in Brussels, a number of leaders echoed Mr Varadkar’s call, adding that they did not know the conclusions Mrs May and her Brexit “war Cabinet” had come to at their Chequers meeting on Thursday.

“I am commenting on the outcome of the Chequers meeting when I know what the exact conclusions are,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker said.

Asked when he expected to get detail on the British Cabinet meeting, Mr Juncker added, jokingly: “I am not the British Prime Minister. It would be good for Britain if I was!”

“You have to report to me what they did [at Chequers], that’s your job!” the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

Questioned about whether the EU side was maintaining its united line on Brexit and not allowing the UK to cherry pick aspects of the EU, Mr Rutte said there was full agreement.

“Yes we are aligned as 27 and yes we have very close ties with Britain. That’s why, as good friends, we can bring the difficult messages like I did last Wednesday in Downing Street: asking Theresa May to be as clear as possible on what she wants to achieve,” the Dutch Prime Minister said.

“I really believe that as 27 we have a reasonable position, that we want to stay as closely associated with the UK as possible but for example, membership of the internal market means serious obligations, membership of the customs union means serious obligations.

“So it’s always, if you want something, there are certain rules you have to abide by,” Mr Rutte said.

Mr Varadkar added: “It’s not a la carte. It’s not possible to be aligned with the European Union when it suits and not when it doesn’t. That’s not possible and I think the United Kingdom really needs to square that circle and it doesn’t appear to me that that circle has yet been squared.”

But in language which will be seen as encouraging by the British Government, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani repeated a phrase often used by Theresa May.

“The UK will be outside the European Union but not outside Europe,” Mr Tajani said. “We are working all together for a good Brexit. For us its important to achieve good solutions.”

Mr Tajani’s views could be increasingly important. He has been named as a possible candidate for Italian Prime Minister if a coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party tops the polls in next weekend’s Italian election.

Last night, as the British Cabinet were wrapping up their crunch Brexit talks at Chequers, the leaders of 13 EU countries were sitting down for dinner at a chateau on the edge of Brussels.

The informal dinner was hosted by the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and among the guests were the EU’s two most powerful leaders, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Among the others in attendance were the leaders of The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Bulgaria and Ireland. The presidents of the European Commission and European Council, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, were not among the guests.

After the dinner, Mr Varadkar, tweeted: “Met up with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and other EU colleagues in Brussels last night to talk Brexit and the future of Europe. [The] EU has stood firmly beside Ireland throughout Brexit negotiations.”

The crux of their discussion was a private conversation about potential candidates for senior EU leadership positions which are up for grabs next year, but Brexit was discussed too.

The degree to which the remaining members of the European Union maintain united in their approach to Brexit is key to the outcome of the negotiations.

Cabinet ministers met at Chequers to thrash out a Brexit strategy
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Cabinet ministers met at Chequers to thrash out a Brexit strategy

Some countries, like the Netherlands and Belgium, with closer trade ties to the UK, are concerned about the impact of a hard Brexit on their local economy and may push for a softer Brexit.

While the British Government has yet to explicitly outline the type of Brexit it wants to secure, Mrs May has repeatedly said that she wants a bespoke deal rather than opting for an “off-the-shelf” model like a Canada-style trade deal or a Norway-type relationship.

Under the so-called “three baskets” model, discussed at Chequers, the UK would, post-Brexit, place EU regulations into three baskets.

In basket one, EU regulations would be followed as if the UK were still an EU member.

In basket two, the objectives of EU regulations would be the same, but would be achieved in a different way.

And in basket three, areas where the UK would diverge completely from the EU approach.


Farmer Paul Brute feeds lambs and ewes on Gwndwnwal Farm during lambing season



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Brexit Forensics: Impact on Welsh lamb exports

Although seen as a possible neat compromise for divided factions of the UK Government, the EU Commission has already said “the ‘three baskets approach’ [is] not compatible with the principles in the European Council guidelines”.

The EU Commission believes that the model breaks the red-lines set by the member states of the EU.

They worry that the autonomy of EU decision-making and the integrity of the single market will be weakened and also that other countries outside the EU will seek similar bespoke arrangements, undermining the whole European Union project.



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New Zealand is best placed to survive a global collapse of society, study suggests | World News

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New Zealand is the country most likely to survive a collapse of global civilisation, researchers have said.

A study has suggested a combination of ecological destruction, limited resources and population growth could trigger a worldwide breakdown “within few decades”, with climate change making things worse.

A “very likely” collapse would be characterised by the disintegration of supply chains, international agreements and global financial structures, according to researchers at the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University.

Wind turbines at Whitelee Windfarm in East Renfrewshire
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Researchers said the UK could increase its use of wind turbines to secure its future

They said problems could spread quickly because of how connected and economically dependant countries are on one another.

Five countries were identified as best placed to maintain civilisation within their own borders: New Zealand, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia.

All of them are islands or island continents which have fewer extremes in temperatures and varied amounts of rainfall due to their proximity to oceans.

Researchers said this makes them most likely to have relatively stable conditions in the future, despite the effects of climate change – which is expected to hit subtropics and tropics the hardest.

New Zealand’s ability to produce geothermal and hydroelectric energy, its abundant agricultural land and its low population would allow it to survive relatively unscathed.

Although the UK has generally fertile soils and varied agricultural output, it does not have as much agricultural land available because of its population density, raising questions about future self-sufficiency.

Britain’s reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy was considered to be a risk as power sources could be “rendered at least partly inoperable” if global supply chains collapse.

:: Subscribe to ClimateCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Spreaker.

Researchers said this could be mitigated by the nation’s manufacturing capabilities.

Meeting the large population’s energy demands through renewables alone would require very extensive infrastructure, they said, but the UK could increase its resilience by harnessing more energy from wind and water bodies like lagoons or barrages in the Severn Estuary.

Professor Aled Jones, Director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, said “significant changes are possible in the coming years and decades”.

He said: “The impact of climate change, including increased frequency and intensity of drought and flooding, extreme temperatures, and greater population movement, could dictate the severity of these changes.”

Researchers identified pandemics as another risk to societal stability, citing the United Nations’ warning that future pandemics could be even more severe than COVID-19.

Twenty countries were analysed in the report.

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Boris Johnson urges world leaders to dig deep to boost children’s education across globe | Politics News

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Boris Johnson is urging world leaders to dip into their pockets to boost children’s education across the globe and help avoid a “legacy of wasted talent” as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The prime minister will host a summit in London on Thursday with the aim of fundraising among governments, business and charities for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

The GPE aims to raise $5bn (£3.6bn) over the next five years in order to get 175 million more children into education around the world.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta at Chequers, the country house of the serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in Buckinghamshire. Picture date: Wednesday July 28, 2021.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will close Thursday’s summit

Ahead of the Summit, Mr Johnson said: “We have a fight on our hands to ensure COVID-19 does not scupper the life chances of millions of children, leaving a lasting legacy of wasted talent.

“Too many children around the world – girls in particular – were already out of school before the pandemic.

“Enabling them to learn and reach their full potential is the single greatest thing we can do to recover from this crisis and build better, greener and fairer societies.

“Today I am urging governments, businesses and philanthropists to invest in the future by fully funding the transformative work of the Global Partnership for Education.”

Girls are feared to be particularly at risk of never returning to school once they have left, with 132 million girls around the world already estimated to be out of school even before the impact of the COVID pandemic.

Thursday’s summit is being jointly hosted with Kenya and will be opened by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and his Kenyan counterpart, Raychelle Omamo.

The prime minister and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who held bilateral talks at Chequers on Wednesday, will close the summit, along with Australia’s former prime minister Julia Gillard, who is the GPE’s chair.

World leaders, businesses, UN agencies, charities and youth leaders will join the summit both virtually and in person.

The UK last month pledged £430m to the GPE at the G7 Summit in Cornwall.

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Pedro Castillo: Left-wing rural teacher becomes Peru’s president, promising a new constitution | World News

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A man who was until recently a teacher in a rural part of Peru has been sworn in as the country’s new president.

Pedro Castillo, representing a left-wing party, stunned voters and political observers by emerging from a group of 18 candidates and advancing to the run-off, finishing in first place.

His slogan, “no more poor in a rich country”, attracted support from the impoverished and those living in rural areas.

Pedro Castillo
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Pedro Castillo has never held political office before

Mr Castillo, 51, has never held political office before, defeating right-wing career politician Keiko Fujimori by just 44,000 votes.

He is promising a new constitution, and to rule for “my peasant sisters and brothers”.

The son of illiterate peasants, he led a teachers’ strike in 2017. He is his country’s first president of peasant origin.

Mr Castillo is married with two children. Video of his wife, filmed at the weekend, shows her sweeping the floor at their house in the Andes and tending to some animals. Their home is in the country’s third-poorest district.

Peru is the second largest copper exporter in the world, but its economy has been crushed by the coronavirus pandemic. Economic gains made over the last decade have been eliminated.

Private companies are fearful that Mr Castillo will hike taxes on mining to fund health and education reforms.

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Pedro Castillo’s family leave behind rural life

But on the day of his inauguration, he said there was “not the remotest” plan to nationalise industry.

He will be seeking a “new pact” with private investors, however.

In a speech shortly after being sworn in, he said he wanted the state-owned bank to compete with private lenders but that he would maintain economic “order and predictability”.

He faces a divided Congress, meaning his political abilities will be tested from the start.

Pedro Castillo receives the presidential sash from the president of the Congress, Maria del Carmen Alva
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Mr Castillo receives the presidential sash

Claudia Navas, an analyst with the global firm Control Risks, said his government begins amid “considerable uncertainty”.

She added: “We still do not have clear his main lines of policy. However, we foresee that possibly, due to the characteristics of the Peruvian political system and the current general political and economic situation of the country, that Castillo will maintain a more pragmatic position than he announced during the campaign.

“The key is to build those consensuses and add strength to the proposals on how he is going to achieve them.”

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