What We Learned During The G7 Conference

Grind for August 29th
“The road to success is always under construction.”
– Lily Tomlin

Standing Firm

The Headline

G7 Summit: Boris Johnson on Brexit

The Grind

Speaking with reporters during the G7 Summit this weekend, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the chances of a Brexit deal are “improving.”

“I think in the last few days we’ve actually had quite a lot of success in landing some messages about what the UK can do and can’t do,” said Johnson, adding that a successful deal will depend on cooperation from the bloc.

“I think at the moment there’s a reasonable chance that we’ll get a deal, but in order to get that deal…we’ve got to prepare to come out without one.”

The Details

A major sticking point for Johnson is the “Irish backstop,” an EU proposal that cements the bloc’s rules in Northern Ireland and ties the UK economy to the bloc.

On Sunday, European Council President Donald Tusk told Johnson the EU would consider “realistic” alternatives to the backstop as long as they are “immediately operational.”

Johnson said a no-deal Brexit would be the EU’s fault (Tusk thinks otherwise) and would free the UK from having to pay the agreed-upon £39 billion divorce bill.

Once the UK leaves the bloc, continued Johnson, it will have the freedom to reduce taxes, improve regulations, and negotiate new trade deals.

President Donald Trump has promised to strike a “fantastic” deal with the UK after Brexit is complete.

Such a deal would need to go well beyond “just trade in goods,” said Johnson. “If you’re a British architect or insurance company, you have unbelievable barriers to establishing in the US in the way that an American architect or an American lawyer or whatever does not face barriers in the UK.”

In the meantime, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn is hoping to block a no-deal Brexit by winning a vote of no confidence against Johnson. From there, he proposes leading a temporary government to extend Article 50 while a general election is held. During the election, his party will advocate for a second Brexit referendum.

Not So Fast

The Headline

G7 Summit: Trump wants Russia back in the club

The Grind

Speaking to fellow world leaders this weekend at the G7 Summit, President Donald Trump reiterated his suggestion that Russia be invited to rejoin the group, especially for discussions on Iran, Syria, and North Korea.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and outgoing Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte were the only two leaders in attendance not to push back against the suggestion.

“It became a bit tense to say the least,” said one diplomat. “Most of the other leaders insisted on this being a family, a club, a community of liberal democracies, and for that reason they said you cannot allow President Putin – who does not represent that – back in.”

The Details

As host, Trump will have the opportunity to invite outside guests – including Russian President Vladimir Putin – to next year’s G7 summit.

“I would certainly invite him,” said Trump. “Whether or not he could come, psychologically, I think that’s a tough thing for him to do.”

Top Democratic lawmakers sent Trump a letter Tuesday asking him not to invite Putin to the 2020 summit. “Readmitting Putin’s Russia to the G7 would be contrary to our values and a clear abdication of the United States’ responsibilities as the world’s leading democracy,” they wrote.

Russia was kicked out of the group in 2014 after it annexed Crimea.

Speaking during the summit’s conclusion on Monday, Trump framed the annexation of Crimea as a failure of the Obama Administration.

“President Obama was pure and simply outsmarted…They took Crimea during his term. That was not a good thing. It could have been stopped, but President Obama was unable to stop it, and it’s too bad.”

On Saturday, Moscow test-fired a nuclear-capable ICBM from the North Pole and launched another missile from beneath the surface of the Barents Sea.

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