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House Speaker Paul Ryan won’t seek re-election



According to a person familiar with Ryan’s decision, he made his choice over the latest two-week congressional recess with his wife, Janna, but an ongoing discussion about his future had been taking place for several months with a small group of his staff and his family.

The person also said that Ryan has thoughts on who should succeed him as the Republican leader, and “he will share them at a later time.”

Axios was the first to report that Ryan, 48, would leave Congress at the end of his term, which expires in January. According to a senior administration official, Ryan spoke with President Donald Trump about his decision earlier Wednesday morning, and the president then tweeted a message of support.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday that despite the stresses and pressures of being speaker, “Paul’s optimism and energy never waned.”

“I’m glad we can count on his continued leadership through the rest of this year, because our work together is far from finished,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “I look forward to collaborating closely these next months to implement more of the inclusive, pro-growth, pro-opportunity agenda the American people are counting on us to keep advancing.”

Ryan, whose departure had been rumored for months, is the highest-profile Republican to join the House’s Casualty List, which tracks members of the 115th Congress who have said they’re leaving. According to The Tampa Bay Times, Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., announced his retirement on Wednesday as well.

Ryan was elected to the House 20 years ago and became speaker in October 2015. He struggled to unite his party on the issues. Health care reforms stalled, while failed negotiations over spending shut the government down. Ryan championed the GOP’s tax cuts late last year, securing the lone major legislative victory of Trump’s tumultuous first year in office.

The top Democrat in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, remarked on Ryan’s commitment to his political beliefs.

“The speaker has been an avid advocate for his point of view and for the people of his district,” the minority leader said in a statement. “Despite our differences, I commend his steadfast commitment to our country.”

Back home in Ryan’s Wisconsin district, there are already a number of challengers lined up, including Democrat Randy Bryce, who boasted Tuesday of strong fundraising numbers. He cheered Ryan’s announcement with a joke about Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Speaker Ryan sees what is coming in November, and is calling it quits,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement. “Stay tuned for more retirements as Republicans increasingly realize that their midterm prospects are doomed.”

Two Wisconsin Republicans had already announced bids for Ryan’s seat: Paul Nehlan, who challenged Ryan in 2016 and earned 15.9 percent of the vote, and veteran Nick Polce, whose campaign has not yet gained much traction.

The filing date for the August primary is June 1, giving Republicans less than two months to rally additional candidates.

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China, France furious at new U.S. security alliance with Britain, Australia



HONG KONG — America’s new security alliance with Britain and Australia was always likely to be greeted with fury by China, the unspoken target of Washington’s latest effort to reinforce its influence in the region.

And it was. But the pact also incensed France, a longtime ally that felt its Indo-Pacific interests had been torpedoed by the submarine-centered agreement.

At a news briefing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the pact “seriously undermined regional peace and stability, exacerbated the arms race and undermined international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.”

Zhao added that any regional alliance “should not target or harm the interests of third parties.”

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In a briefing before Wednesday evening’s announcement, a Biden administration official stressed that the pact “is not aimed at any one country.”

But the AUKUS deal comes as the U.S. steps up its efforts to counter China.

It will allow Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, using technology that the U.S. had only previously shared with Britain. The pact also allows for greater collaboration between the three countries on cyber capabilities and artificial intelligence, as well as in other areas.

It will also make Australia the seventh country in the world to have nuclear-powered submarines, after the U.S., Britain, France, China, India and Russia. Unlike those other countries, Australia does not have nuclear weapons.

“The U.S. has only ever shared this technology with the U.K., so the fact that Australia is now joining this club indicates that the United States is prepared to take significant new steps and break with old norms to meet the China challenge,” said Sam Roggeveen, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, in a statement shared with NBC News.

Relations between Beijing and Canberra have been in a downward spiral, with the U.S. ally emerging as a key bulwark in the West’s efforts to combat China’s growing influence.

China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, has embarked on a trade war in return.

There now appears little prospect for improved ties, which the Australian government will have taken into consideration, according to Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst in defense strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.

“I think China will probably increase the pressure on us as a result of this, but frankly we need to do this in order to ensure our security,” he said.

But it’s not just China that was irked by the deal.

France also expressed outrage after the agreement brought its own deal to build submarines for Australia, inked in 2016, to an abrupt end.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly voiced their displeasure in a joint statement.

“The American choice to exclude a European ally and partner such as France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region,” they said, “shows a lack of coherence that France can only note and regret.”

A visibly angry Le Drian later described the announcement as “a stab in the back.”

“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do,” he said on France-Info radio.

“We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed,” he added. “This is not done between allies.”

Australia signed a 2016 deal with French shipbuilder Naval Group to build it a new submarine fleet worth $40 billion.Naoya Masuda / Yomiuri Shimbun via AP file

Parly said Thursday that the government would try to minimize the financial impact of the canceled deal on submarine manufacturer Naval Group, which is mostly state-owned.

Asked whether France would seek compensation from Australia, she did not rule it out.

Being sidelined by the new alliance was a “big disappointment” for French trade, according to Frédéric Charillon, a political science professor at France’s Clermont Auvergne University.

“But, what is probably more worrying now is…the lack of confidence that is now growing between the Biden administration and at least some of the European alliance, including France,” he said.

Washington appears to be fueling “the impression that maybe the new administration (is) not that different from the last,” Charillon added.

In New Zealand opposition leaders questioned why Australia’s neighbor and close ally had been left out of the loop.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that her government had not been approached as part of the pact, “nor would I expect us to be.”

But she added that any nuclear-powered submarines Australia acquired would not be allowed in the country’s territorial waters, since its longstanding nuclear-free policy forbids the entry of vessels powered by nuclear energy.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that in spite of the hard feelings among both rivals and some allies, this was simply an opportunity his country couldn’t turn down.

The advantages of nuclear submarines were clear, he said: “They’re faster, they have greater power, greater stealth, more carrying capacity.”

“Australians would expect me as prime minister to ensure that we have the best possible capability to keep them safe and to be unhindered in pursuing that as best as I possibly can,” he added. “And that is what I have done.”

Jennifer Jett reported from Hong Kong, and Chantal Da Silva reported from Toronto.

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Socialist-raised Liz Truss shaping up to be 'Thatcher 2.0' as she secures Cabinet boost



LIZ TRUSS has slowly built up a reputation as a “radical classical liberal” member of the Conservative Party, with Institute for Government chief Mark Littlewood tipping her for a “Thatcher 2.0” role within her party.

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Boris Johnson increasingly at risk as Rishi Sunak eyes top No10 job 'Very vulnerable'



BORIS JOHNSON has found himself at increasing risk from Rishi Sunak, according to Social Democratic Party leader William Clouston.

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