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Boris Johnson’s biggest gamble may be paying off. According to a major poll of 100,000 British voters, the ruling Conservative Party is on course for its largest majority since Margaret Thatcher’s victory in 1987.
A lot can change before the vote on Dec. 12. But for Johnson, the YouGov research is a vindication of his strategy to agree on a new Brexit deal with the European Union and ask the country to give him a majority to finish the job.
The pound gained as the prospect of a radical left-wing government led by Jeremy Corbyn recedes and the chances of an orderly Brexit grow.
But risks remain. The Tories are ahead by less than 5% in many key seats, a margin Labour could overturn. The gaffe-prone Johnson must avoid tripping up in a televised debate against Corbyn — and needs to neutralize Labour claims that he would sell out the U.K.’s National Health Service to U.S. drug companies in a trade deal with President Donald Trump.
Even if Johnson wins a big majority and fast-tracks his EU divorce through Parliament, he will have only 11 months to negotiate a new trade deal with the bloc.
If that agreement can’t be struck by the end of 2020, a no-deal Brexit will loom large once again.
China threat | After Trump signed a bill lending support to Hong Kong’s protesters, China reiterated its intention to take “resolute countermeasures.” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, said in a tweet that China could put the drafters of the bill on a no-entry list. But Beijing also must balance its anger over the measure against the need to secure a trade deal as soon as possible with the U.S.
Thanksgiving rocket | North Korea today fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles with the projectiles landing in waters between it and Japan. While Pyongyang has avoided testing long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles for two years the regime is threatening to break off sputtering talks with the U.S. on its nuclear weapons program unless concessions are offered by the end of the year.
Trade champion | Global trade is about to lose one of its most successful advocates. In an era of extraordinary political turbulence, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has deployed civility and consistency to deliver blockbuster market-opening agreements that will chart the bloc’s course for decades. The Swede steps down on Saturday after cutting billions in tariffs despite (or perhaps because of) Trump’s protectionist efforts.
Iraq turmoil | The Iraqi holy city of Najaf was the latest scene of protests by the majority Shiite community against government corruption, poor services and Iranian influence. Demonstrators burned the Iranian consulate after police opened fire and then left the building with the diplomatic staff, al-Arabiya television reported. Iraqi security forces and Iranian-backed militias have killed at least 350 civilians since protests erupted last month, according to the nation’s Human Rights Commission.
Mapping Crimea | Apple sparked anger in Ukraine after some versions of its Maps application began showing Crimea as part of Russia. The Black Sea peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014, prompting international sanctions. “Stick to high-tech and entertainment. Global politics is not your strong side,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko tweeted to the company, which hasn’t commented.
What to Watch
The U.S. Justice Department’s appeal of an order compelling former White House Counsel Don McGahn to comply with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena is set to be heard Jan. 3. Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey and former Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma are in Ethiopia this week as its aggressive digitization drive to create jobs attracts global interest.
Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at firstname.lastname@example.org.And finally … A generation of Venezuelan children is missing out on an adequate education amid mass absenteeism, decaying buildings and an exodus of qualified teachers. As Matthew Bristow writes, 20 years into the nation’s socialist experiment, classrooms are half-empty as the school system falls apart amid an economic crisis and hyperinflation. Out-of-school children of primary-school age reached 325,000 in 2017, data show, doubling from 2013.
–With assistance from Rosalind Mathieson, Kathleen Hunter, Richard Bravo and Iain Marlow.
To contact the author of this story: Tim Ross in London at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Halpin at firstname.lastname@example.org, Karl Maier
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