18 January 2020

Britain

Britain joins Germany in criticizing Macron's Mercosur threat

KONFRONTASI-Britain joined Germany on Saturday in criticizing French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to block a trade deal between the European Union and the Mercosur group of southern American countries to pressure Brazil on Amazon forest fires.

In a surprise statement on Friday, Macron said he had decided to block the EU-Mercosur deal and accused Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro of lying in playing down concerns about climate change.

Britain faces food shortages in no-deal Brexit scenario, industry body says

KONFRONTASI-Britain will experience shortages of some fresh foods for weeks or even months if a disorderly no-deal Brexit leaves perishable produce rotting in lorries at ports, Britain’s food and drink lobby warned on Wednesday.

Retailers such as Tesco (TSCO.L) have warned that leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 without a transition deal would be problematic as so much fresh produce is imported and warehouses are stocked full ahead of Christmas.

The industry - which employs 450,000 people in the United Kingdom - views Brexit as the biggest challenge since World War Two, dwarfing previous crises such as the horse meat scandal of 2013 and the mad cow disease outbreaks of the 1980s and 1990s.

“We’re not going to starve but there will be shortages of fresh food and some specialist ingredients. It’s going to be a little bit unpredictable,” the Food and Drink Federation’s Chief Operating Officer Tim Rycroft told Reuters.

“Given that food very often is perishable and has a short shelf life, we expect that there will be some selective shortages of food in the weeks and months following no-deal Brexit,” Rycroft said. “There will be some shortages and price rises.”

Part of the problem is that Brexit could change everything - or, possibly, nothing.

Ahead of the original Brexit deadline of March 29, supermarkets and retailers spent millions of pounds preparing for Brexit and working with suppliers to increase stocks of dried goods including pasta, bottled water and toilet paper.

After three years of Brexit discussion, it is still unclear on what terms the United Kingdom will leave the European Union with options ranging from a last-minute exit deal or delay to an acrimonious divorce that would knot the sinews of trade.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly warned the European Union that unless it agrees to do a fresh divorce deal then he will lead the country out of the bloc on Oct. 31 without a deal.

China protests to UK over ‘fantasizing’ about Hong Kong

KONFRONTASI-China has protested to Britain after London warned Beijing of “serious consequences” if it breached an agreement over the handover of Hong Kong from the British Empire to China.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Tuesday that he expected China to honor the 1984 agreement that would hand Hong Kong over to China in 13 years but would also assign semi-autonomy to the region.

Britain plans social media regulation to battle harmful content

KONFRONTASI-Britain proposed new online safety laws on Monday that would slap penalties on social media companies and technology firms if they fail to protect their users from harmful content.

Easy access to damaging material particularly among young people has caused growing concern worldwide and came into the spotlight in Britain after the death of 14-year-old schoolgirl Molly Russell, which her parents said came after she had viewed online material on depression and suicide.

Governments across the world are wrestling over how to better control content on social media platforms, often blamed for encouraging abuse, the spread of online pornography, and for influencing or manipulating voters.

Global worries were recently stoked by the live streaming of the mass shooting at a mosque in New Zealand on one of Facebook’s platforms, after which Australia said it would fine social media and web hosting companies and imprison executives if violent content is not removed “expeditiously”.

In a policy paper widely trailed in British media, the government said it would look into possibly using fines, blocking access to websites, and imposing liability on senior tech company management for failing to limit the distribution of harmful content.

It would also set up a regulator to police the rules.

TechUK, an industry trade group, said the paper was a significant step forward, but one which needed to be firmed up during its 12-week consultation. It said some aspects of the government’s approach were too vague.

“It is vital that the new framework is effective, proportionate and predictable,” techUK said in a statement, adding not all concerns could be addressed through regulation.

Facebook said it was looking forward to working with the government to ensure new regulations were effective, repeating its founder Mark Zuckerberg’s line that regulations were needed to have a standard approach across platforms.

Britain's Labour Party leader backs Brexit referendum

KONFRONTASI-Britain’s opposition Labour Party will back a new referendum on Brexit after parliament defeated its alternative plan for leaving the European Union, its eurosceptic leader Jeremy Corbyn said.

With 29 days left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union, both Prime Minister Theresa May and Corbyn have been forced into making changes to their approaches to the divorce.

Corbyn, who voted against membership in 1975 and gave only reluctant backing to the 2016 campaign to remain in the EU, on Wednesday gave ambiguous backing for another referendum, saying he would push for one alongside a British parliamentary election.

It is the first time since Britons voted in 2016 to leave the EU that one of its two major political parties has thrown its weight behind giving voters a chance to change their minds.

But it was unclear what the exact question might be.

“After tonight’s votes in parliament, we’ll continue to push for a close economic relationship based on our credible alternative plan or a general election,” Corbyn said.

“We’ll also back a public vote in order to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit or disastrous no deal.”

John McDonnell, the second most powerful man in the Labour Party, said it would put down an amendment calling for a second referendum as soon as May brought a deal back to parliament.

Britain’s Brexit minister, Steve Barclay, said there was no consensus in parliament for another referendum or even on what question might be asked.

After months of saying that Britain must leave the EU on time on March 29, May opened up the possibility on Tuesday of a short extension to the exit date.

She is hoping to bring back a tweaked divorce accord for a parliamentary vote, which could come as early as next week but may not take place until March 12.

Talks with the EU have moved forward in the last week, but there is a significant amount of work to do, May’s spokesman said.

Sungguh Ironi, Lulusan SD yang Piawai Modifikasi Airsoft Gun Jadi Senpi

KONFRONTASI -  Warga Lumajang, Joni Mahendra (35), ditangkap diduga memproduksi dan menjual senjata api (Senpi) rakitan. Ulah warga Dusun Krajan, Desa Jarit, Kecamatan Candipuro, ini terbongkar berawal saat senpi rakitan yang dikirim ke pembeli, terdeteksi petugas Bandara Juanda.

UK's Labour plans to make companies give shares to workers

KONFRONTASI-Large companies would be forced to transfer as much as 10 percent of their shares to their workers under plans set out by Britain’s opposition Labour Party on Monday.

Labour, which under socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn has shifted from a centrist pro-business platform to a more interventionist left-wing pitch, is using its annual conference to detail its plans to help a greater number of people to share in economic prosperity that it says is “hoarded by the few”.

The party has announced plans to nationalize key industries, including water, energy and rail, and to give workers a third of seats on company boards.

Labour said that every company with more than 250 employees would have to create an “Inclusive Ownership Fund”, transferring at least 1 percent of their shares into the fund every year, up to a maximum of 10 percent.

“Employee ownership increases a company’s productivity and encourages long-term decision making,” Labour finance spokesman John McDonnell told the party’s annual conference in Liverpool.

“The shares will be held and managed collectively by the workers. The shareholding will give workers the same rights as other shareholders to have a say over the direction of their company, and dividend payments will be made directly to the workers from the fund.”

Labour has cited the example of Germany, where workers sit on company boards, but the business lobby group, British Chambers of Commerce, criticized Labour’s plan, saying it could deter people from investing in Britain.

“Let no one be fooled, Labour’s proposals are both a tax grab and an unprecedented overreach into the way many of our businesses are run and will raise serious concerns,” BCC Director General Adam Marshall said.

“At a time of peak Brexit uncertainty, when Labour should be setting out how it will support business confidence and investment, it is announcing policies that would deliver the exact opposite.”

Two years after Brexit vote, British leaders still tied in knots over how to leave Europe

KONFRONTASI-It was two years ago this week that Britain voted in a historic referendum to leave the European Union. And by now, Brexit was supposed to be pretty far along, with “quick” negotiations starting to yield beautiful trade deals and the glimmer of independence.

But this uncoupling is turning out to be far more difficult and acrimonious than promised.

Britain, France and Germany agree support for Iran nuclear deal

KONFRONTASI-The leaders of Britain, France and Germany have agreed the Iran nuclear deal is the best way of stopping Tehran from gaining nuclear weapons, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said in a statement on Sunday.

May had phone calls with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel where they agreed the deal may need to be broadened to cover other areas such as ballistic missiles, what happens when the deal expires, and Iran’s destabilizing regional activity, the statement said.

Britain expels 23 Russian diplomats over nerve attack on ex-spy

KONFRONTASI-Britain is to kick out 23 Russian diplomats, the biggest such expulsion since the Cold War, over a chemical attack on a former Russian double agent in England that Prime Minister Theresa May blamed on Moscow.

May pointed the finger firmly at Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday as she outlined retaliatory measures in parliament.

Russia denies any involvement in the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who have been critical in hospital since they were found unconscious on March 4 on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury.

May announced the potential freezing of Russian state assets that pose a security threat, new laws to counter hostile state activity and a downgrading of Britain’s attendance at the soccer World Cup in Russia this summer.

She had given Moscow until midnight on Tuesday to explain how the Soviet-made Novichok nerve agent came to be deployed on the streets of Salisbury, saying either the Russian state was responsible or had lost control of a stock of the substance.

“Their response demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events,” May said in her statement to parliament. “They have treated the use of a military-grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance.”

The only possible conclusion was that the Russian state was behind the attempted murder of the Skripals and the harm that befell Nick Bailey, a police officer who is in a serious condition after being exposed to the nerve agent, May said.

“This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom,” she said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow would swiftly retaliate against the British measures which had been undertaken for “short-sighted political ends”.

“The British government has made a choice in favour of confrontation with Russia,” it said.

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