Poll: British Reject May’s Brexit Plan, Some turn to Boris, Far Right

Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to leave the European Union are overwhelmingly opposed by the British public and more than a third of voters would support a new right-wing political party committed to quitting the bloc, according to a new poll.

May’s political vulnerability was exposed by the survey which found voters would prefer Boris Johnson, who quit as her foreign minister two weeks ago, to negotiate with the EU and lead the Conservative Party into the next election.

Only 16 percent of voters say May is handling the Brexit negotiations well, compared with 34 percent who say that Johnson would do a better job, according to the poll conducted by YouGov for The Sunday Times newspaper.

With a little more than eight months to go before Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, May’s government, parliament, the public and businesses remain deeply divided over what form Brexit should take.

May’s plans to keep a close trading relationship with the EU on goods thrust her government into crisis this month and there is speculation she could face a leadership challenge after two of her most senior ministers, including Johnson, resigned in protest.

Only one in 10 voters would pick the government’s proposed Brexit plans if there were a second referendum, according to the poll. Almost half think it would be bad for Britain.

The new Brexit minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday the prime minister was still trying to persuade members of the cabinet that her strategy was the best way forward.

Raab also warned that Britain could refuse to pay a 39 billion pound ($51 billion) divorce bill to the EU if it does not get a trade deal – a threat used before by ministers.

No deal Brexit

Speaking to the BBC, Raab refused to deny reports the government is planning to stockpile food or use a section of motorway in England as a lorry park to deal with increased border checks if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

Asked about a story in The Sun newspaper that the government was planning to stockpile processed food, Raab initially replied “no” and then added: “That kind of selective snippet that makes it into the media, to the extent that the public pay attention to it, I think is unhelpful.”

The possibility of leaving without a trade deal has increased with May facing rebellions from different factions in her party. She only narrowly won a series of votes on Brexit in parliament last week.

The Sunday Times poll found voters are increasingly polarized, with growing numbers of people alienated from the two main political parties.

Thirty-eight percent of people would vote for a new right-wing party that is committed to Brexit, while almost a quarter would support an explicitly far-right anti-immigrant, anti-Islam party, the poll found.

Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage and U.S. President Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon are in discussions about forming a new right-wing movement, according to The Sunday Times.

Half of voters would support remaining in the EU if there were a second referendum, the poll found, a level of support found in other surveys this year.

YouGov spoke to 1,668 adults in Britain on July 19 and 20, according to The Sunday Times, which did not provide other details about how the poll was conducted.

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German Industry: US Tariffs Risk Hurting US

German industry groups warned Sunday, ahead of a meeting between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and U.S. President Donald Trump, that tariffs the United States has recently imposed or threatened risk harming the U.S. itself.

The U.S. imposed tariffs on EU steel and aluminum June 1, and Trump is threatening to extend them to EU cars and car parts. Juncker will discuss trade with Trump at a meeting Wednesday.

Dieter Kempf, head of Germany’s BDI industry association, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper it was wise for the European Union and United States to continue their discussions.

German auto industry

“The tariffs under the guise of national security should be abolished,” Kempf said, adding that Juncker needed to make clear to Trump that the United States would harm itself with tariffs on cars and car parts.

He added that the German auto industry employed more than 118,000 people in the United States and 60 percent of what they produced was exported to other countries from the U.S. 

“Europe should not let itself be blackmailed and should put in a confident appearance in the United States,” he added.

Lowered expectations

EU officials have sought to lower expectations about what Juncker can achieve and downplayed suggestions that he will arrive in Washington with a novel plan to restore good relations.

Eric Schweitzer, president of the DIHK Chambers of Commerce, told Welt am Sonntag he welcomed Juncker’s attempt to persuade the U.S. government not to impose tariffs on cars.

“All arguments in favor of such tariffs are … ultimately far-fetched,” he said.

The German economy had for decades counted on there being open markets and a reliable global trading system, Schweitzer said, but he added of the current situation: “Every day German companies feel the transatlantic rift getting wider.”

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Fiat Chrysler Names Jeep Boss to Replace Stricken CEO

Fiat Chrysler named on Saturday its Jeep division boss, Mike Manley, to take over immediately for Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne, who is seriously ill after suffering major complications following surgery.

The carmaker said British-born Manley, who also takes responsibility for the North America region, will push ahead with the midterm strategy outlined last month by Marchionne, who had been due to step down next April.

Marchionne, 66, was credited with rescuing Fiat and Chrysler from bankruptcy after taking the Italian carmaker’s wheel in 2004. On Saturday, he was also replaced as chairman and CEO of Ferrari and chairman of tractor maker CNH Industrial — both spun off from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in recent years.

“FCA communicates with profound sorrow that during the course of this week unexpected complications arose while Mr. Marchionne was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly in recent hours,” the statement said.

FCA disclosed earlier this month that Marchionne, a renowned dealmaker and workaholic, was recovering from a shoulder operation. But his condition deteriorated sharply in recent days when he suffered massive complications that were not divulged.

Ferrari named FCA Chairman and Agnelli family scion John Elkann as new chairman, while board member Louis Camilleri becomes chief executive. CNH appointed Suzanna Heywood to replace Marchionne as chairman. All three companies remain controlled by the Agnellis.

Marchionne had previously said he planned to stay on as Ferrari chairman and CEO until 2021.

Deal focus

One of the auto industry’s longest-serving CEOs, Marchionne has advocated tie-ups to share the growing cost burden of developing cleaner, electrified and autonomous vehicles.

He resisted the comparatively easy option of selling off coveted brands such as Jeep, saying that would leave too big a problem with Fiat as “the stump that is left behind.”

But after being rejected by his preferred partner General Motors, he turned back to the task of cutting FCA’s debt — a goal he achieved last month — while maintaining that a merger for FCA was “ultimately inevitable.”

Investor hopes for a transformative deal had largely dwindled and are unlikely to hit the shares on Marchionne’s departure, according to Evercore analyst George Galliers.

“The valuation doesn’t suggest expectations of a buyout are high,” Galliers said.

Even without Marchionne, FCA will remain “culturally more open to dealmaking and savvy to potential capital market opportunities than much of the competition,” he added.

“A lot of that’s now ingrained, so I don’t think you lose everything he’s brought to the company overnight.”

Yet, Manley will have a tough act to follow.

Marchionne resurrected one of Italy’s biggest corporate names and revitalized Chrysler, succeeding where the U.S. company’s two previous owners — Mercedes parent Daimler and private equity group Carberus — both failed.

He has multiplied Fiat’s value 11 times since taking charge, helped by moves such as the spinoffs of CNH Industrial and Ferrari. The planned separation of parts maker Magneti Marelli, due this year, should further increase that value-generation.

He also flattened an inflexible hierarchy, replacing layers of middle management with a meritocratic leadership style. He slashed costs by reducing the number of vehicle architectures and creating joint ventures to pool development and plant costs.

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Tariffs Will Hurt Economy, IMF Warns, as Trump Threatens More

The International Monetary Fund warned world economic leaders on Saturday that a recent wave of trade tariffs would significantly harm global

growth, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened a major escalation in a dispute with China.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said she would present the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Buenos Aires with a report detailing the impacts of the restrictions already announced on global trade.

“It certainly indicates the impact that it could have on GDP [gross domestic product], which in the worst case scenario under current measures … is in the range of 0.5 percent of GDP on a global basis,” Lagarde said at a joint news conference with Argentine Treasury Minister Nicolas Dujovne.

In the briefing note prepared for G-20 ministers, the IMF said global growth might peak at 3.9 percent in 2018 and 2019, while downside risks have increased because of the growing trade conflict.

Her warning came shortly after the top U.S. economic official, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, told reporters in the Argentine capital there was no “macro” effect yet on the world’s largest economy.

Long-simmering trade tensions have burst into the open in recent months, with the United States and China — the world’s largest and second-largest economies — slapping tariffs on $34 billion worth of each other’s goods so far.

The weekend meeting in Buenos Aires comes amid a dramatic escalation in rhetoric on both sides. Trump on Friday threatened tariffs on all $500 billion of Chinese exports to the United States.

Mnuchin said that while there were some “micro” effects, such as retaliation against U.S.-produced soybeans, lobsters and bourbon, he did not believe that tariffs would keep the United States from achieving sustained 3 percent growth this year.

“I still think from a macro basis we do not see any impact on what’s very positive growth,” Mnuchin said, adding that he was closely monitoring prices of steel, aluminum, timber and soybeans.

G-7 allies

The U.S. dollar fell the most in three weeks on Friday against a basket of six major currencies after Trump complained again about the greenback’s strength and about Federal Reserve interest rate increases, halting a rally that had driven the dollar to its highest level in a year.

Mnuchin will try to rally G-7 allies over the weekend to join the United States in more aggressive action against China, but they may be reluctant to cooperate because of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union and Canada, which prompted retaliatory measures.

Mnuchin said he would tell G-7 allies that the Trump administration was ready to make a trade deal with them and had placed a high priority on completing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada.

“If Europe believes in free trade, we’re ready to sign a free-trade agreement,” he said, adding that a deal would require the elimination of tariffs, nontariff barriers and subsidies.

“It has to be all three issues.”

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, however, said at the G-20 meeting that the European Union could not consider negotiating a free-trade agreement with the United States unless Washington withdrew its steel

and aluminum tariffs first.

Le Maire said there was no disagreement between France and Germany over how and when to start trade talks with the United States. Both agreed Washington needs to take the first step by eliminating tariffs, he said.

Previous session

The last G-20 finance meeting in Buenos Aires in late March ended with no firm agreement by ministers on trade policy, except for a commitment to “further dialog.”

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said he would use the meeting to advocate for a rules-based trading system, but that expectations were low.

“I don’t expect tangible progress to be made at this meeting,” Scholz told reporters on the plane to Buenos Aires.

The U.S. tariffs will cost Germany up to 20 billion euros ($23.44 billion) in income this year, according to the head of German think-tank IMK.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he hoped the debate at the G-20 gathering would lead to an easing of retaliatory trade measures.

“Trade protectionism benefits no one involved,” he said. “I think restraint will eventually take hold.”​

​Protests

Host country Argentina is one of the world’s most closed economies, after a string of populist leaders implemented tariffs and restrictions on foreign capital to protect domestic industry. Market-friendly President Mauricio Macri has removed many of those barriers, generating popular backlash as factory

employment has nosedived.

A currency crisis this year prompted Argentina to seek IMF financing, a political risk for Macri since many Argentines blame Fund-imposed austerity for making its 2001-02 economic collapse worse. Opposition politicians led a protest against Lagarde’s presence on Saturday.

“This deal will mean a tougher, more severe adjustment for working people,” said Nicolas del Cano, a lawmaker for the Socialist Workers’ Party, calling for a national strike to “defeat” the IMF deal.

Lagarde said on Saturday that Argentina was “unequivocally” making progress on its deficit reduction targets agreed to as part of the $50 billion deal.

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Iran Leader Backs Suggestion to Block Gulf Oil Exports if Own Sales Stopped

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday backed President Hassan Rouhani’s suggestion that Iran may block Gulf oil exports if its own exports are stopped and said negotiations with the United States would be an “obvious mistake.”

Rouhani’s apparent threat earlier this month to disrupt oil shipments from neighboring countries came in reaction to looming U.S. sanctions and efforts by Washington to force all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.

“(Khamenei) said remarks by the president … that ‘if Iran’s oil is not exported, no regional country’s oil will be exported,’ were important remarks that reflect the policy and the approach of (Iran’s) system,” Khamenei’s official website said.

Iranian officials have in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile U.S. action.

Khamenei used a speech to foreign ministry officials on Saturday to reject any renewed talks with the United States after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a 2015 international deal over Iran’s nuclear program.

“The word and even the signature of the Americans cannot be relied upon, so negotiations with America are of no avail,” Khamenei said.

It would be an “obvious mistake” to negotiate with the United States as Washington was unreliable, Khamenei added, according to his website.

The endorsement by Khamenei, who has the last word on all major issues of state, is likely to discourage any open opposition to Rouhani’s apparent threat.

Khamenei also voiced support for continued talks with Iran’s European partners in the nuclear deal which are preparing a package of economic measures to offset the U.S. pullout from the

accord.

“Negotiations with the Europeans should not be stopped, but we should not be just waiting for the European package, but instead we should follow up on necessary activities inside the country [against U.S. sanctions],” Khamenei said.

France said earlier this month that it was unlikely European powers would be able to put together an economic package for Iran that would salvage its nuclear deal before November.

Iran’s oil exports could fall by as much as two-thirds by the end of the year because of new U.S. sanctions, putting oil markets under huge strain amid supply outages elsewhere in the world.

Washington initially planned to totally shut Iran out of global oil markets after Trump abandoned the deal that limited Iran’s nuclear ambitions, demanding all other countries to stop buying its crude by November.

But it has since somewhat eased its stance, saying that it may grant sanction waivers to some allies that are particularly reliant on Iranian supplies.

 

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US Senators Drop Efforts to Cripple China’s ZTE

U.S. Republican lawmakers have dropped their efforts to reimpose a crippling ban on exports to the Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE. 

The move Friday gives a victory to U.S. President Donald Trump who has championed for ZTE to stay in business. 

Republican senators Friday dropped legislation that would block ZTE from buying component parts from the United States. Senators had included the legislation in a defense spending bill passed last month, but a House version of the defense bill did not include the same provision.

Lawmakers say senators decided to leave the provision out of the final compromise bill, which is expected to come to a vote in the House and Senate in the coming days.

Lawmakers from both parties have been critical of President Trump over his decision to lift a ban on U.S. companies selling to ZTE.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer blasted Friday’s developments.

“By stripping the Senate’s tough ZTE sanctions provision from the defense bill, President Trump and the congressional Republicans who acted at his behest  have once again made President Xi and the Chinese Government the big winners,” he said in a statement.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio called dropping the provision “bad news” in a tweet Friday.ZTE is accused of selling sensitive technologies to Iran and North Korea, despite a U.S. trade embargo.

In April, the U.S. Commerce Department barred ZTE from importing American components for its telecommunications products for the next seven years, practically putting the company out of business. 

However, Trump later announced a deal with ZTE in which the Chinese company would pay a $1 billion fine for its trade violations, as well as replace its entire management and board by the middle of July.

The Commerce Department announced last week that it has formally lifted the ban on ZTE after the Chinese company complied with all terms of the settlement. 

Most of the world first heard of the dispute over ZTE in May after one of Trump’s tweets.

 

 

 

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Trump Amps Up Criticism of Fed Rate Hikes

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday dug in on his criticism of the Federal Reserve’s policy on raising interest rates, saying it takes away from the United States’ “big competitive edge,” and lamented the strength of the U.S. dollar.

Trump, in posts on Twitter, also accused the European Union and China of manipulating their currencies.

“China, the European Union and others have been manipulating their currencies and interest rates lower, while the U.S. is raising rates while the dollars gets stronger and stronger with each passing day – taking away our big competitive edge,” Trump wrote. “As usual, not a level playing field.”

After his posts, the U.S. dollar extended losses against the European Union’s euro, the Chinese yuan and Japanese yen.

Representatives for the Fed could not immediately be reached for comment.

Trump had already criticized the Fed’s interest rate policy in an interview on CNBC on Thursday, saying he was concerned higher rates could impact the U.S. economy.

Most economists believe the current economic climate, with the nation’s unemployment at historic lows and inflation at the Fed’s 2 percent target, justify recent interest rate rises and a strong U.S. dollar.

The issue also ties into the Trump administration’s current trade battles with China, Europe and others, as a strong currency tends to make a country’s exports more expensive, hurting exporters.

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Trump Ready to Hit All Chinese Imports With Tariffs

President Donald Trump has indicated that he’s willing to hit every product imported from China with tariffs, sending U.S. markets sliding before the opening bell Friday.

 

In a taped interview with the business channel CNBC, Trump said “I’m willing to go to 500,” referring roughly to the $505.5 billion in goods imported last year from China.

 

The administration to date has slapped tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods in a trade dispute over what it calls the nation’s predatory practices.

 

Dow futures which had already been pointing modestly lower slid sharply after the comments were aired by CNBC early Friday, indicating triple-digit losses when the market opens.

 

The yuan dipped to a 12-month low of 6.8 to the dollar, off by 7.6 percent since mid-February.

 

There is already pushback in the U.S. from businesses that will take a hit in an escalating trade war.

 

Trump has ordered Commerce to investigate whether auto imports pose a threat to U.S. national security that would justify tariffs or other trade restrictions. Earlier this year, he used national security as a justification for taxing imported steel and aluminum.

 

Auto tariffs would escalate global trade tension dramatically: The U.S. last year imported $192 billion in vehicles and $143 billion in auto parts — figures that dwarf last year’s $29 billion in steel and $23 billion in aluminum imports.

 

In the same interview, taped Thursday at the White House, Trump broke with a long-standing tradition at the White House and voiced displeasure about recent actions at the U.S. Federal Reserve. Both political and economic officials believe that the central bank needs to operate free of political pressure from the White House or elsewhere to properly manage interest rate policy.

 

Last month, the Fed raised its benchmark rate for a second time this year and projected two more increases in 2018. Its rate hikes are meant to prevent the economy from overheating and igniting high inflation. But rate increases also make borrowing costlier for households and companies and can weaken the pace of growth. In particular, the Fed’s most recent rate hikes could dilute some of the benefit of the tax cuts Trump signed into law last year.

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