February 18, 2020
You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.Slow boast to ChinaIt had taken some time, but he got there in the end. Several weeks after the coronavirus outbreak began (and a full fortnight after his father Stanley let slip the Chinese were ‘concerned’ at his lack of direct contact), Boris Johnson finally spoke on the phone to President Xi Jinping today.
Is Boris Johnson Relying Too Much On China To Boost Post-Brexit Britain?
No.10 told us that the PM “offered his sympathies” for those affected, while the president thanked the UK for its “support”, including the donation of vital medical equipment. But what really caught my eye was the line that the pair “resolved to work together across a range of issues including strengthening the economic partnership, to benefit the people of both China and the UK”‌.
Normally that would be the usual trade links bromide that accompanies any chinwag with the Chinese. Yet given the events of the past few weeks, it felt like diplospeak for China’s growing satisfaction with the Johnson government. Beijing was delighted the PM gave the go-ahead to Chinese telecoms firm Huawei to play a role in UK 5G phone networks, despite huge pressure from Donald Trump to ban it outright.
Last week it emerged that both governments have also had preliminary talks about Beijing’s state-owned railway firm helping to build the HS2 rail project quicker and cheaper than planned. And for all the UK intelligence agencies talk of Huawei as a ‘high risk vendor’ that should be kept away from nuclear submarine sites, the fact is that Britain already has deals for Chinese firms to build a new nuclear power station in Essex, with its eyes on others.
For Johnson, this is in many ways what Brexit is all about. Just as he’s trumpeted the merits of a new trade deal with the US, he’s very keen indeed on increasing trade with China from its current $90bn a year (a fraction of China-Germany trade of $220bn a year). Just 3.5% of the UK’s total exports go to China. Beijing also expects that the UK will provide healthy competition for the EU when competing for direct investment from Chinese companies. As the coronavirus is laying bare, many UK universities rely on Chinese students for an income too.
There are more than a few Tory MPs nervous about cosying up to what is still one of the most authoritarian regimes in the world. Natural sympathy for China’s current plight should not blind the PM to the dangers of Beijing’s worldview, they mutter. Surely democratic India should be our focus instead, they argue (though prime minister Modi is making that a tougher sell than usual right now). Some Labour MPs believe that this could also open up a vulnerable flank for Johnson too, under a new leader: imagine Labour saying they’d be tougher on China (and Russia) than the Tories? A bit of economic nationalism could work for the Opposition.‌
Of course, China’s huge scale makes it impossible to ignore, not least in the field of climate change. That’s why Johnson and Xi today discussed the coming COP26 summit in Glasgow (it’s understood the PM gently issued a formal invitation to Xi). Stanley Johnson had raised with the Chinese ambassador this month the idea of his son making a trip to China’s biodiversity summit in Kunming. It’s unclear if that was part of their call today, but the PM (like Cameron and May before him) will be keen on making a trip as soon as he can.
As it happens, Donald Trump too phoned Xi in recent days. Always in awe of a strongman, the president praised his counterpart’s leadership and ‘discipline’ in responding to the outbreak. Some in the US think his softer tone is about reassuring financial markets worried about coronavirus and about getting - yes you guessed it - a workable trade deal with Beijing. It could after all prove a key electoral weapon, ahead of his re-election in November.
Given that Trump was apparently ‘apoplectic’ with Johnson over the Huawei decision (and given his chief of staff is due in No.10 on Wednesday to meet Dominic Cummings to remind him of that displeasure), his own conciliatory tone seems as quixotic as ever. But it would be richly ironic if the White House now decided that trade trumps everything after all.
The real difficulty for the PM is that he knows that both US and Chinese trade with the UK is currently dwarfed by its trade with the EU. And the more Brussels cuts up rough, the more leverage Washington and Beijing have in trying to extract better terms out of Britain. Avoiding that three-way squeeze really could be what defines Johnson’s premiership.Quote Of The Day“The truth is our prime minister’s a real racist.”‌
Rapper Dave at the Brit AwardsTuesday Cheat SheetThe Home Office revealed that its new points-based immigration system would not grant visas to unskilled workers from the EU, once a post-Brexit deal is agreed. Critics warned that social care and the hospitality industry would suffer from acute labour shortages as a result.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that the UK cannot have the same trade deal with Brussels as Canada because of its “particular proximity” to the continent.
Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said the process for hiring No.10 advisers needs to be “looked at” after Andrew Sabisky’s “racist, offensive and objectionable” blogs and remarks. It also turned out that Sabisky’s father Ed is the finance director of Unite the union (and that he sent his son to private school as a youngster).
New chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Budget will go ahead on 11 March, even though he has just three weeks to put his own stamp on tax and spending plans drafted by Sajid Javid.What I’m ReadingHow To Stop The Next Pandemic Before It Happens - Foreign PolicyGot A Tip?Send tips, stories, quotes, pics, plugs or gossip to waugh.zone@huffpost.com. Subscribe To Commons PeopleEach week, the HuffPost UK Politics team unpack the biggest stories from Westminster and beyond. Search for Commons People wherever you listen to podcasts and subscribe. Related... British Rapper Dave Blasts 'Real Racist' Boris Johnson During Powerful Brit Awards Performance Two Towns Urged To Evacuate Amid Flood Fears As Rivers Rise To Record Levels Across UK Curbing Judicial Review Is Johnson’s Brexit ‘Revenge’, Says Gina Miller
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Tyler Cameron and Hannah Brown’s TikToks hint at romance | Page Six Celebrity News
March 27, 2020
gkwXOYkNxNA
From ‘Queer Eye’ to ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’: Carson Kressley Gives Exclusive Fashion Advice | Page Six
March 26, 2020
AiydbIWq4Z0
‘Catastrophe' sex scene will rip your pantyhose | Steamy and Streamy | Decider After Dark | Page Six
March 25, 2020
9ATO0kfRLkE
'Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens' Star BD Wong on the Season 1 Finale
March 26, 2020
I376jQsGfI0
Sterling K. Brown on the 'This Is Us' Season 4 Finale and Randall's Mental Health Journey
March 24, 2020
TYK7IlgWDRU
Bob Odenkirk Teases the End of 'Better Call Saul' and What Happens Before 'Breaking Bad'
March 24, 2020
-0cfJSUPWEY
Drew Brees Wants $5 Million Donation To Put People's Minds at Ease | TMZ
March 28, 2020
705C-GYWxgc
Criss Angel Says It's Eerie to See Vegas Look Like a Ghost Town | TMZ
March 27, 2020
1CTwK7QJxck
'Project Runway' Star Michael Costello Converts Factory to Produce Masks | TMZ
March 27, 2020
4in0LAg2fIs
Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson Return to U.S. After COVID-19 Diagnosis | E! News
March 27, 2020
ZUXzcT7-8jU
French Montana Accused of Sexual Assault in New Lawsuit | E! News
March 27, 2020
_EzA00km8GM
Rita Ora Reveals Her Social Distancing Routine | Daily Pop | E! News
March 28, 2020
oCtVwD4cnuc
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
08
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Inter Milan
08
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Manchester City
08
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Everton
08
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Betis - Real Madrid
08
Mar
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Genoa
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Burnley - Tottenham Hotspur
07
Mar
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - West Ham United
07
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Sociedad
07
Mar
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Sevilla
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k tudKp5Vhs3k iwWHibhssSo kQr0XHPbICM 5NeCb7JxaRk u5xQKdNqazE 56CdjlzJqSA kw7uFRs-Az0 xNv0JZWLV7w
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.