December 17, 2019

Boris Johnson Comes Out Swinging With Brussels
(Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Balance of Power newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more.In the days since Boris Johnson’s U.K. election win, there’s been much talk as to whether the blustery campaigning prime minister would be replaced by a slightly softer, cuddlier version — that having secured a large mandate, he would adopt a more centrist, collaborative stance.The signs are that not much will change. As parliament resumes, Johnson plans to bring his Brexit deal back for a vote with speed. And with a twist. As Tim Ross explains, the bill will now include a guarantee that the Brexit transition phase can’t be extended, setting up a new cliff-edge for a no-deal split with the European Union at the end of next year.The time frame to negotiate new trading arrangements with the EU was always going to be tight, and fraught. Johnson is piling on the pressure in saying he won’t agree to any delay. Trade deals generally take years to finalize, even relatively simple versions. Some have taken decades.We’ve seen Johnson use threats and deadlines before to force action. The EU will have an incentive to avoid a disorderly Brexit a year from now. But equally, it does want to keep the U.K. as bound as it can to its rules and regulations.Johnson’s majority at home gives him wiggle room to push laws through. But that doesn’t mean Brussels will become a pushover.Global HeadlinesTrial plans | House Democrats are nearing one of the most important decisions in their effort to impeach Donald Trump: Who will bear the duty of prosecuting the president in next year’s Senate trial? The team’s makeup will influence the trial’s tone and help create the narrative for voters ahead of the 2020 election. Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler are expected to be tapped, Billy House reports.The House Rules Committee plans what could be an all-day meeting to write the procedures for an impeachment debate and vote by the full House tomorrow.Escalating threats | U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Turkey’s threats to close two critical NATO installations are raising questions about its commitment to the military alliance. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned yesterday of possible retaliation — including shuttering an early-warning radar at Kurecik and Incirlik Air Base — if the U.S. imposes sanctions over Ankara’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system.Persistent protests | France faces chaos during the holiday season with a third week of transport strikes as unions and Emmanuel Macron’s government remain locked in a stalemate over the president’s drive to reform the national pension system. With negotiations suspended, the impasse runs the risk of upending the crown jewel of Macron’s effort to modernize the French social security apparatus.Feeling the pain | Hong Kong’s economy is ending the year wounded, with the chances for stabilization in 2020 hanging on whether, or for how long, anti-government protests persist and how violent they are. Economists forecast a 1.3% contraction for 2019, although the government’s annual budget early next year may be a source of fresh stimulus.Black soil | Decades after millions died in a Soviet-imposed famine and the Nazi invasion in “the breadbasket of Europe,” Ukraine is bracing for another fight over its fertile black soil. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is about to scrap a 2001 rule that banned sales of farmland to prevent people from being swindled out of their property, but most Ukrainians think that’s a terrible idea.What to WatchIsrael is heading for its third election in less than a year, but the economy remains strong with growth around 3%. The U.S. House plans to vote on $1.4 trillion in spending bills needed to avert a government funding lapse on Saturday. South Africa will press the United Arab Emirates this week to sign an agreement that could be used to extradite members of the Gupta family to face corruption-related allegations in Johannesburg. Pakistan's former dictator and president Pervez Musharraf was sentenced to death in absentia today, for imposing emergency rule and suspending the constitution in 2007.  Musharraf has been in Dubai since 2016.Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.And finally ... Over a wide river and down a rutted, muddy track in the hills of Madagascar, impoverished farmers haggle with buyers from international corporations over a price for the most flamboyantly mercurial commodity on the planet: vanilla. Reporting from an auction marked by comedy and tragedy, as well as humanity and subterfuge, Monte Reel describes how the oily bean that makes its way into so many of our modern foods exposes the genius and insanity of globalized commerce. \--With assistance from Karl Maier, Kathleen Hunter and Ruth Pollard.To contact the author of this story: Rosalind Mathieson in London at rmathieson3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Winfrey at mwinfrey@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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