Johnson’s Brexit Plans Face Scottish Barrier
Boris Johnson has a Scottish problem, and she’s not going away.
Ruth Davidson, the charismatic leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland, is resolutely opposed to the new prime minister’s fall-back plan of a no-deal Brexit. She’s already threatening to fight if he tries to force the U.K. out of the European Union without a divorce accord in October.
“I don’t think the government should pursue a no-deal Brexit and, if it comes to it, I won’t support it,” Davidson wrote in a Scottish newspaper yesterday.
There is little love lost between the two Tories, who campaigned against each other during the 2016 referendum, which Johnson’s pro-leave side won.
But Johnson needs Davidson now. A popular Conservative is a rare thing in Scotland. She is credited with helping the party cling to power at the last election by winning seats north of the border and remains influential in Westminster. Johnson, meanwhile, is still toxic in Scotland, so he could use Davidson to both bolster the party nationally and to hold off Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and her push for independence.
As Johnson prepares his team to take the U.K. out of the EU on Oct. 31, with or without a deal, he’s demanding total loyalty from officials. But he’s powerless to silence Davidson. As Johnson might say, when the pair meet today some plaster could well come off the ceiling.
Driving the week | Democrats insist they’ve got answers for Michigan’s myriad economic woes. And they’re not taking the state for granted after Hillary Clinton became the party’s first presidential candidate in 28 years to lose there in 2016. But Democratic hopefuls will face a skeptical audience when they arrive for this week’s debates in the Motor City.
- Kamala Harris is rolling out a “Medicare for All” proposal that preserves a role for private insurers, positioning herself between rivals Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.
- As House Democrats examine whether to recommend presidential articles of impeachment, read about Tom Steyer’s argument that doing so would be good politics for Democrats in the latest edition of Bloomberg’s Campaign Update.
Rare briefing | China said violent protests in Hong Kong wouldn’t be tolerated and go “beyond the scope” of peaceful demonstration, its highest-profile response yet to unrest that flared this weekend in the city. The comments by the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, which answers to China’s cabinet, came amid worries the violence could lead Beijing to send in its army as the protest movement widens.
Baltimore bashing | Trump has instigated a fresh feud, this time with a prominent black lawmaker, calling House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings’s Baltimore district “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Cummings, a vocal critic of Trump’s policies on the U.S.-Mexico border, and other Democrats denounced the comments as racist. Trump pledged in 2016 to fix poverty in inner cities, along with crime and drug problems.
Mystery illness | Russia’s top opposition leader, Alexey Navalny, was moved from prison to a hospital yesterday after possibly being exposed to “an unknown chemical substance” that caused a severe allergic reaction, according to his doctor. Navalny, 43, was jailed for 30 days last week for urging people to join Moscow protests on Saturday when police detained more than 1,400. His personal doctors have been barred from checking on him in the hospital, his spokeswoman said.
Spilling the beans | A senior Venezuelan defector has revealed details of Nicolas Maduro’s authoritarian rule, including widespread spying on the opposition, and how the leader, his family and associates embezzle the proceeds of oil and other treasures as the nation descends into chaos and starvation. General Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera told Jose Enrique Arrioja and Ethan Bronner in Miami that as the former head of national intelligence, he too bears responsibility for Maduro’s stay in power.
What to Watch This Week
- Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers converge on Bangkok.
- U.S-China trade talks resume. Subscribe to Bloomberg’s Terms of Trade newsletter to receive all the big developments in your inbox each weekday.
- Johnson will get an early flavor of how his message is going down with U.K. voters, with a by-election Thursday in Wales.
- The U.K. says it’s continuing to engage with Iran to secure the release of a seized British oil tanker and defuse tensions.
And finally... India’s prime minister seems to have more than just jobs and a rapidly weakening economy on his mind. Narendra Modi is set to appear on Bear Grylls’ Man Vs Wild to raise awareness about wildlife conservation. Grylls today tweeted a clip that shows the 68-year-old leader riding a dinghy down a river and trekking through a forest. Modi’s not the first politician to appear on the show — President Barack Obama traveled to Alaska in 2015 to promote action on climate change.
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