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3 months after Brexit vote, UK and EU leaderships still clueless

As the former British minister Kenneth Clarke rightly says, in the absence of an agreed plan three months after the British Brexit vote the British and EU leaderships still do not know what to do about Brexit.

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Kenneth Clarke has always been one of the British politicians I most admire. He’s honest, good humoured, clever, consistent in his views, and never afraid to criticise those who are the opposite. Because of this he’s been rather busy lately.

At the first Prime Minister’s Questions session in Parliament after Brexit, Clarke alluded to the fact that no one really knows what Brexit means.

Both sides are equally to blame for this mess. The Brexiteers should have released their detailed programme on their plans for withdrawal. A general election could then have been held so that the public could support this programme or some other form of ‘Brexit’ in the event of an ‘out’ victory.

I can already hear a chorus saying something like: ‘but that could have endangered the structure of the party political system in Britain’. News flash: it’s happening anyway.

Labour have become a public demonstration of Solomonic justice as the party isn’t doing much to hide the fact that the Blairite half hate the Corbynista half. The party may split in two.

The Tories are putting on a brave face but in reality they are divided amongst more ideological lines than Labour. There are those who actively want to reverse Brexit (including the elder statesman Clarke and the ever ambitious George Osborne), there are the Brexit ‘true believers’, best represented by William Cash and Jacob Rees-Mogg, and then there are lots of others like Boris Johnson, who have plenty of principles and if you don’t like those the declare, no problem – they’ve got plenty of others.

All this is being led by a Prime Minister who in the words of Kenneth Clarke, “Doesn’t know much about foreign affairs”.

Suddenly the idea that the Brexiteers should have had a programme or programmes on which to stand in the event of a post-Brexit general election does not look fanciful; it looks pragmatic, ethical and efficient.

The Remain side  also share the blame. If they were the responsible people they pretend to be then they should have worked with the Brexiteers to ensure that the transition out of Europe is managed in a measured, methodical and cooperative way.  However so sure were they of victory that they didn’t bother to consult their opponents in a meaningful way.

Clarke is absolutely right when he says that the current Conservative government ‘have no policies’.  When it comes to Brexit he’s also right to say that “Nobody in the government has the first idea of what they’re going to do next on the Brexit front”.

But it is not just in Britain where there is confusion.

In Europe no one really knows what is going on, and the enmity between the EU leaders and the UK leaders has more than an eerie resemblance to that between the Remain camp and the Leave camp during the referendum.

Angela Merkel has urged calm and restraint.  I suppose her handling of the refugee crisis has taught her a lesson about jumping into things without preparation.

Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Parliament Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt have urged  Britain to trigger Article 50 immediately, whilst the UK’s ‘Brexit Minister’ David Davis insists that both sides think the thing through prior to that event.

Recently former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has said that any thinking through should be done upon the triggering of Article 50, which he wants done immediately.

To make matters even more confused, Nigel Farage who is still very much the leader of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy faction in the EU Parliament, is making speeches agreeing with the EU leaders he built a career ridiculing. He agrees with Juncker and those who support him in wanting Article 50 triggered more or less immediately.

Into this fray, Kenneth Clarke seems to be the lone sensible voice.

I am a lifelong Eurosceptic because I am opposed to globalist one-size fits all solutions.   I am also opposed to the exploitation of sovereign wealth, which leads to the suffering of ordinary people as has been done to much of southern and eastern Europe.   I am opposed to the idea of a forcibly united militant foreign policy between putatively independent countries, and I am opposed to an EU army.

Unlike many of the more extreme Brexiteers (who have only recently come out of the woodwork) I am not now nor have I ever been opposed to generally likeminded people in a small section of the world having the right to trade, work and live together.  This has helped many and harmed virtually none. 

EU policy on Ukraine by contrast is very harmful indeed.

So whilst I disagree with Kenneth Clarke’s lifelong Europhilia, I have a deep respect for him as a politician.

In 2005 when the Conservative party had a leadership contest, I had hoped Clarke win. Had he won, David Cameron’s ill-thought out and ill-timed referendum would never have taken place and the subsequent confusion and chaos would have been avoided.     

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U.S. May Impose Sanctions Against Turkey Over S-400 “Threat” To F-35

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform.

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Authored by Al Masdar News:


Turkish officials have repeatedly insisted that Ankara’s purchase of the advanced Russian air defense system poses no threat whatsoever to the NATO alliance. Last month, the Turkish defense ministry announced that delivery of S-400s to Turkey would begin in October 2019.

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform, and may impose sanctions against Ankara, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency has reported, citing a high-ranking source in Washington.

“I can’t say for certain whether sanctions will be imposed on Ankara over the S-400 contract, but the possibility is there. The US administration is not optimistic about this issue,” the source said.

While admitting that Turkey was a sovereign state and therefore had the right to make decisions on whom it buys its weapons from, the source stressed that from the perspective of these weapons’ integration with NATO systems, the S-400 was “problematic.”

The source also characterized the deployment of S-400s in areas where US F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighters are set to fly as “a threat,” without elaborating.

Emphasizing that negotiations between Washington and Ankara on the issue were “continuing,” the source said that there were also “positive tendencies” in negotiations between the two countries on the procurement of the Patriot system, Washington’s closest analogue to the S-400 in terms of capabilities.

Designed to stop enemy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles at ranges of up to 400 km and altitudes of up to 30 km, the S-400 is currently the most advanced mobile air defense system in Russia’s arsenal. Russia and India signed a ruble-denominated contract on the delivery of five regiments of S-400s worth $5 billion late last month.

Last week, the Saudi Ambassador to Russia said that talks on the sale of the system to his country were ongoing. In addition to Russia, S-400s are presently operated by Belarus and China, with Beijing expecting another delivery of S-400s by 2020.

Washington has already slapped China with sanctions over its purchase of S-400s and Su-35 combat aircraft in September. India, however, has voiced confidence that it would not be hit with similar restrictions, which the US Treasury has pursued under the 2017 Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

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OPEC Plus: Putin’s move to control energy market with Saudi partnership (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 150.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss OPEC Plus and the growing partnership between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which aims to reshape the energy market, and cement Russia’s leadership role in global oil and gas supply.

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Russia and Saudi Arabia’s ‘long-term relationship’ WILL survive

The Express UK reports that Russia and Saudi Arabia’s ‘long-term relationship’ will not only survive, but grow, regardless of geopolitical turmoil and internal Saudi scandal…as the energy interests between both nations bind them together.

Ties between Saudi Arabia and Vladimir Putin’s Russia have a “long-term relationship” which is strategically beneficial to both of them, and which underlines their position as the world’s most influential oil producers, alongside the United States, an industry expert has said.

Following concerns about too much oil flooding the market, Saudi Arabia on Sunday performed an abrupt u-turn by deciding to reduce production by half a million barrels a day from December.

This put the Middle Eastern country at odds with Russia, which said it was no clear whether the market would be oversupplied next year, with market analysts predicting the country’s oil producing companies likely to BOOST proaction by 300,000 barrels per day.

But IHS Markit vice chairman Daniel Yergin said the decision was unlikely to jeopardise the relationship between the two allies.

The Saudis have faced significant international criticism in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Speaking to CNBC, Mr Yergin made it clear that Moscow and Riyadh would continue to be closely aligned irrespective of external factors.

He explained: “I think it’s intended to be a long-term relationship and it started off about oil prices but you see it taking on other dimensions, for instance, Saudi investment in Russian LNG (liquefied natural gas) and Russian investment in Saudi Arabia.

“I think this is a strategic relationship because it’s useful to both countries.”

Saudi Arabia and Russia are close, especially as a result of their pact in late 2016, along with other OPEC and non-OPEC producers, to curb output by 1.8 million barrels per day in order to prevent prices dropping too far – but oil markets have changed since then, largely as a result.

The US criticised OPEC, which Saudi Arabia is the nominal leader of, after prices rose.

Markets have fluctuated in recent weeks as a result of fears over a possible drop in supply, as a result of US sanctions on Iran, and an oversupply, as a result of increased production by Saudi Arabia, Russia and the US, which have seen prices fall by about 20 percent since early October.

Saudi Arabia has pumped 10.7 million barrels per day in October, while the figure for Russiaand the US was 11.4 million barrels in each case.

Mr Yergin said: “It’s the big three, it’s Saudi Arabia, Russia and the US, this is a different configuration in the oil market than the traditional OPEC-non-OPEC one and so the world is having to adjust.”

BP Group Chief Executive Bob Dudley told CNBC: “The OPEC-plus agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC producers including Russia and coalition is a lot stronger than people speculate.

“I think Russia doesn’t have the ability to turn on and off big fields which can happen in the Middle East.

“But I fully expect there to be coordination to try to keep the oil price within a certain fairway.”

Markets rallied by two percent on Monday off the back of the , which it justified by citing uncertain global oil growth and associated oil demand next year.

It also suggested  granted on US sanctions imposed on Iran which have been granted to several countries including China and Japan was a reason not to fear a decline in supply.

Also talking to CNBC, Russia’s Oil Minister Alexander Novak indicated a difference of opinion between Russia and the Saudis, saying it was too soon to cut production, highlighting a lot of volatility in the oil market.

He added: “If such a decision is necessary for the market and all the countries are in agreement, I think that Russia will undoubtedly play a part in this.

“But it’s early to talk about this now, we need to look at this question very carefully.”

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Nigel Farage lashes out at Angela Merkel, as Chancellor attends EU Parliament debate (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 17.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at Nigel Farage’s blistering speech, aimed squarely at Angela Merkel, calling out the German Chancellor’s disastrous migrant policy, wish to build an EU army, and Brussels’ Cold War rhetoric with Russia to the East and now the United States to the West.

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