Week in Review

8 February 2018



CORBYN OFFERS PM MAY BREXIT SUPPORT. Jeremy Corbyn, UK Labour Party leader, delivered a letter to Theresa May last night which spelled-out the terms for Labour's support. Labour's brexit vision is softer than the average Tory line, demanding a customs union with the UK, as well as high levels of integration and coordination on the single market and various EU institutions. May's troubles finding a deal stem primarily from her party, which is split between a harder and softer Brexit. A deal with Labour could well push her support over the edge, but alienate the Brexiteers within her party. This is assuming Labour MPs would all support Corbyn's proposal, when in-fact his party is overwhelmingly anti-brexit.

FRANCE RECALLS AMBASSADOR TO ROME AMID ONGOING TENSIONS. After months of rising political tensions between France and Italy primarily concerning immigration and the gilet jaunes protests, the French government made the decision this week to recall its ambassador from Rome. This decision seems to have been made directly following a meeting on Tuesday between Italy’s deputy PM Luigi Di Maio, the leader of the populist, anti-establishment five-star movement (M5S), and leaders of the France’s gilet jaunes protest movement along with several candidates the movement has put forward for the upcoming European elections. In a Facebook post following the meeting, Di Maio proclaimed that “The wind of change has crossed the alps”. In response, the French foreign ministry has called this meeting a clear provocation and has stated that Di Maio must “take care not to undermine, through repeated interferences, our bilateral relation, in the interest of both France and Italy.”

CAR BOMBING IN NORTHERN IRELAND SPARKS NATIONALIST DEBATE. A car bombing in the border town of Londonderry (Derry), Northern Ireland, only weeks ago has reinvigorated the ethnic and religious divide that still exists in the region. This division has been exasperated by the Brexit negotiations with Republican groups emboldened to call an end to " British occupation" and reunite the Irish peoples. Many in Northern Ireland fear a return to the chaos and violence that typified a decades long period known as " The Troubles". This explosive device was placed in a stolen pizza delivery truck and detonated outside a courthouse in Derry on January 19th, but the police responded to a tip off and, fortunately, no one was hurt or killed. The future of the Irish people is yet again uncertain due to events outside their borders.

IRAN TO PARDON THOUSANDS. As a part of celebrations relating to the 40th anniversary of the revolution to overthrow its Shah, who was backed by the United States, Iran plans to pardon or reduce the sentences of up to 50 000 citizens. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has complete control over any pardons, made the announcement this week via his twitter account that these prisoners would benefit from "the Islamic Clemency." It is unclear whether any of the pardons will include any citizens jailed for what human rights groups call political reasons. As well, there was no mention of any specific intention to free the many dual nationals currently held in Iran.

THAI PRINCESS RUNS FOR PRIME MINISTER IN UPCOMING ELECTION. Thai Princess Ubolratana Mahidol will run for position of Prime Minister in the country’s upcoming election on March 24th. Her run will break with Thai royal’s practice of remaining out of politics. Princess Ubolratana Mahidol is the eldest sister of the current King of Thailand, Maha Vajiralongkorn. She officially relinquished her status as a member of the royal family in 1972 when she married an American man named Peter Jensen. She returned to Thailand after her divorce from Jensen and has been a visible part of public life. She has starred in several movies and has an active presence on social media. She will run as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Thai Raksa Chart -party affiliated with former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin Shinawatra was in power from 2001 until 2006 when he was ousted by a military coup. He has lived in self-imposed exile ever since.