Starmer to renegotiate Britain’s post-Brexit deal in weeks

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Sunday, 7th July 2024.

British Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer will start the process to renegotiate Britain’s post-Brexit deal within weeks, The Mail on Sunday has been told, as he wants more relaxed freedom of movement rules and lower trade barriers.EU sources believe he is willing to sign the UK back up to some Brussels rules in exchange and they are expecting him to use a summit at Winston Churchill’s birthplace, Blenheim Palace, later this month to unofficially set the wheels in motion.

Sir Keir will host nearly 50 leaders from across Europe at Blenheim on July 18, and is expected to seize the chance to lobby France, Germany and other powerful EU countries in private.

Sources expect him to seek the removal of trade barriers in exchange for ‘dynamic alignment’ – Brussels jargon for being subject to EU red tape, according to The Mail.

But Boris Johnson last night sounded the alarm about any renegotiation, warning: ‘We are on the road to serfdom under Starmer.’ And his Brexit negotiator Lord Frost said Labour would take every chance to ‘chip away at our national independence’.

Labour last night insisted the issue was ‘not on the agenda’, but Sir Keir has previously promised a ‘much better’ trade deal with Brussels than the five-year agreement Johnson signed in 2020.

Today’s runoff vote is a moment of truth for France

French voters face a decisive choice today in the runoff of snap parliamentary elections that could produce the country’s most right-wing government since the World War II Nazi occupation – or no majority emerging at all.
The National Rally, an anti-immigration, nationalist party led by Marine Le Pen, stands a chance of winning a legislative majority for the first time, but the outcome remains uncertain because of a complex voting system and tactical manoeuvers by political parties.

Voters across France and overseas territories can vote for 501 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly, the lower and most important of France’s two houses of parliament. The other 76 races were won outright in the first round of voting.

The National Rally and its allies arrived ahead in Round One with around one-third of the votes. A coalition of centre-left, hard-left, and green parties called the New Popular Front came in second position – well ahead of President Macron’s struggling centrist alliance.

In the frantic week between the two rounds, more than 200 centrist and left-wing candidates pulled out of races to boost the chances of their moderate rivals and try to keep National Rally candidates from winning.

Final pre-election polls suggest that tactic may have diminished the far right’s chances of an absolute majority. Marine Le Pen’s party has wider and deeper support than ever before – and it’s up to voters to decide.

Orbán’s right-wing group meets EU parliament’s conditions

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s new far-right party alliance in the European Parliament has fulfilled the requirements to form a political group called “Patriots for Europe”, according to DW.

To form the group, 23 MEPs from seven countries were needed. And on Saturday, the group secured the membership of the far-right Danish People’s Party and the far-right Flemish Vlaams Belang, meeting the required threshold.

The Hungarian nationalist leader announced his intention to form a new EU parliamentary group on June 30, promising a “new era” that would “change European politics”.

He made the announcement in Strasbourg with Austria’s far-right Freedom Party and the centrist ANO of former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

Since then, five other parties have said they will join. They include the Party for Freedom (PVV) of Dutch anti-Islam firebrand Geert Wilders, Portugal’s far-right Chega party and Spain’s Vox party. The Hungarian Prime Minister strives to become the dominant hard-right force within the EU Parliament.

Orbán, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency as of July 1 for six months, said the parties would meet in Brussels on Monday.

By then he would know if the French National Rally has decided to join forces with him after the conclusion of today’s second round of French parliamentary elections. With 30 MEPs, the National Rally would be the largest political force in the group if it decides to join the “Patriots for Europe”. If it does, the “Patriots for Europe” would potentially become the third largest parliamentary group, following the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) and the Social Democrats (SD).

It would then even overtake the other right-wing group, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Israeli strike kills 16 at Gaza school

At least 16 people were killed in an Israeli strike on a school sheltering displaced Palestinian families in central Gaza on Saturday, the Palestinian health ministry said, in an attack Israel said had targeted militants.

The health ministry said the attack on the school in Al-Nuseirat killed at least 16 people and wounded more than 50.
The Israeli military said it took precautions to minimise risk to civilians before it targeted the gunmen who were using the area as a hideout to plan and carry out attacks against soldiers.

Hamas denies Israeli accusations that it uses civilian properties and facilities for military purposes.
The armed wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad said fighters attacked Israeli forces in several areas of Gaza with anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs.

Al-Nuseirat, one of Gaza Strip’s eight historic refugee camps, was the site of stepped-up Israeli bombardment on Saturday. An air strike earlier on a house in the camp killed at least 10 people and wounded many others, according to medics.

In its daily update of people killed in the nearly nine-month-old war, the Gaza health ministry said Israeli military strikes across the enclave killed at least 29 Palestinians in the past 24 hours and wounded 100 others.

Among those killed in separate air strikes on Saturday were five local journalists, raising the toll of journalists killed since October 7 to 158, according to the Hamas-led Gaza government media office.

Gaza health authorities say more than 38,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s offensive. The health ministry does not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants but officials say most the dead are civilians.

Israel has lost 323 soldiers in Gaza and says at least a third of the Palestinian dead are fighters.

Israel launched its offensive, aimed at eliminating the armed group Hamas, in response to a Hamas-led assault on Israel on October 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and over 250 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces, which have deepened their incursions into Rafah, in the south of the enclave near the border with Egypt, killed four Palestinian policemen and wounded eight others, in an air strike on their vehicle on Saturday, health officials said. A statement issued by the Hamas-run interior ministry said the four included Fares Abdel-Al, the head of the police force in western Rafah neighborhood of Tel Al-Sultan.

The Israeli military said forces continued “intelligence-base operations” in Rafah, destroyed several underground structures, seized weapons and equipment, and killed several Palestinian gunmen. Israel has said its operations in Rafah aim to eradicate the last Hamas armed wing battalions.

Meanwhile, Egypt and Syria warned on Saturday of the danger of the spillover of the war in Gaza into the region. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad held telephone talks to congratulate each other on the occasion of the Muslim new year. They discussed regional developments, expressing their rejection of the displacement of Palestinians inside or outside their territories.

14 dead in Ukraine minibus, water tanker collision

Fourteen people died and one was injured yesterday in a collision between a minibus and a water tanker in the western Ukrainian region of Rivne. This was announced by the Minister of the Interior, Ihor Klymenko, quoted by the local media.

Among the victims there is also a six-year-old child. The authorities have opened an investigation to ascertain the dynamics of what happened.

Pezeshkian’s victory shifts Iran’s political landscape

Masoud Pezeshkian, 69, a former health minister and long-time parliamentarian, was elected as the ninth president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, securing 53.6 per cent of the vote in a runoff election. Analysts say his unexpected victory against ultraconservative Saeed Jalili signals a potential shift in Iran’s political landscape, raising hopes for reformists after years of conservative dominance.

Pezeshkian, Iran’s only reformist candidate in the latest presidential election, has risen from relative obscurity to become the ninth president of the Islamic republic. In the first round of Iran’s snap elections on June 28, Pezeshkian led the polls against three other conservative figures, stunning supporters and rivals alike.

Pezeshkian’s victory has raised the hopes of Iran’s reformists after years of dominance by the conservative and ultraconservative camps. He will replace late ultraconservative president Ebrahim Raisi who died in a May helicopter crash.

Anti-tourism protestors rally in Barcelona

Thousands of protestors marched through central Barcelona last night, waving placards and squirting holidaymakers with water guns in the latest expression of anger at perceived overtourism in Spain.

Under the slogan “Enough! Let’s put limits on tourism”, some 3,000 people, according to police, marched along a waterfront district of Barcelona to demand a new economic model that would reduce the millions of tourists that visit every year.

Protesters carried signs reading “Barcelona is not for sale”, and, “Tourists go home”, before some used water guns on tourists eating outdoors at restaurants in popular tourist hotspots. Chants of “Tourists out of our neighbourhood” rang out as some stopped in front of the entrances to hotels.

Barcelona’s rising cost of housing, up 68 per cent in the past decade, is one of the main issues for the movement, along with the effects of tourism on local commerce and working conditions in the city of 1.6 million inhabitants.

Rents rose by 18 per cent in June from a year earlier in tourist cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, according to the property website Idealista. For years, the city has worn anti-tourist graffiti with messages such as “Tourists go home” aimed at visitors some blame for the rising prices and shaping of the economy around tourists.

Barcelona’s mayor, Jaume Collboni, announced a plan in June to phase out all short-term lets by 2028, an unexpectedly-drastic move by the authorities who seek to rein in soaring housing costs and make the city liveable for residents. But many still feel not enough is being done to balance the needs of tourists, who bring millions to the city each year, with those of locals.Many in the Barceloneta district complain people cannot afford their rents. The Barcelona protests come after similar demonstrations in tourist hotspots such as Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and the Canary Islands.

Euro 2024: Netherlands beat Turkey to set up England semi-final

The Netherlands came back in the second half thanks to a De Vrij header and a Turkey own goal. They’ll be facing England in the semifinal, who beat Switzerland 5-3 on penalties in the earlier Saturday tie.

So, the Euro 2024 semifinals are set: Spain, France, England and the Netherlands are the last four teams left.
The next round will begin on Tuesday with Spain v France in Munich, followed by Netherlands v England on Wednesday in Dortmund. The final will be played in Berlin on Sunday, July 14.

Samet Akaydin’s header gave Turkey a 1-0 halftime lead over the Netherlands in Saturday’s second Euro 2024 quarter-final in Berlin. And the Dutch pushed for an equaliser before the break to a chorus of whistles. The Netherlands however came on in the second half with a completely different attitude and after a huge missed chance, they finally found the equaliser with a header by Inter’s Stefan de Vrij in the 70th minute. It took only six more minutes, and the Dutch completely overturned the score as Gakpo’s tap-in attempt got stirred by Turkey’s Mert Müldür into his own net.

England reached the semifinals of Euro 2024 after a tense game that saw the Three Lions qualify on penalties after drawing 1-1 with Switzerland – the third consecutive draw in three quarter-finals.
Trent Alexander-Arnold scored the decisive 5-3 shootout for England, while Switzerland paid dearly for Manuel Akanji’s miss.

England’s man of the game was without a doubt Arsenal player Bukayo Saka. He kept the team alive by scoring the 1-1 but also was the only English player to remain dangerous and at the centre of the game throughout the whole 120 minutes.

The penalty shootout had England netting five on five. Switzerland’s goalkeeper Yan Sommer is usually a good penalty-saver but all of England’s shootouts were perfectly placed and there was nothing he could do.
Manuel Akanji’s one was easy to save for Pickford, as he shot slow and low.

Before the fifth, winning penalty, England’s other shootouts were converted, in this order, by Palmer, Bellingham, Saka and Toney.

Euro 2024 leading scorers after Saturday’s quarter-final matches: 3: Georges Mikautadze (GEO), Jamal Musiala (GER), Cody Gakpo (NED), Ivan Schranz (SVK); 2: Niclas Fuellkrug, Kai Havertz, Florian Wirtz (all GER), Razvan Marin (ROU), Dani Olmo, Fabian Ruiz (both ESP), Merih Demiral (TUR), Donyell Malen (NED), Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane (both ENG), Breel Embolo (SUI).

Copa America: Quarter-finals: Columbia v Panama 5-0; Uruguay v Brazil 4-2 on penalties. Sem-finals: Wednesday, July 10: Argentina v Canada; Thursday, July 11: Columbia v Uruguay.

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