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What We’re Watching: “No-Deal” Brexit is back!

What We’re Watching: “No-Deal” Brexit is back!

Deal or no deal? If you thought British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decisive victory in last week's UK election had resolved the anguish over if/when/how UK would leave the EU, think again. The UK will formally exit the EU in a matter of weeks, yes, but London still needs to negotiate a comprehensive EU trade deal during a transition period that lasts until the end of 2020. It would be a miracle if a pact could be negotiated in that time, but Johnson's government said yesterday it would not extend the deadline for such a deal. That means it's possible UK could leave the EU without any trade pact at all: a new variant of the dreaded "no-deal" scenario. The move, which raises pressure on the EU to offer the UK a good bargain on their future relationship, means we could be in for another 12 months of Brexit brinkmanship. And you thought it was over…muahahahaha!


A rupture at the UN over North Korea? It looks like somebody's been paying attention to Kim Jong-Un's recent antics. On Tuesday, Moscow and Beijing introduced a UN Security Council resolution that would loosen some economic sanctions on North Korea as a way to draw Pyongyang into fresh talks about its nuclear program. But the US – which, like Russia, China, France, and the UK, holds veto power at the Security Council -- has already killed the idea. We're watching to see how Kim responds.

A death sentence in Pakistan: Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in 1999 and controversially supported former US President George W. Bush's "Global War on Terror", has been sentenced to death in absentia by a Pakistani court after being convicted of high treason. Musharraf imposed martial law in 2007 but was forced from office a year later. Since 2016 has lived in exile in Dubai, where he is fighting the treason charges from a hospital bed. Back home in Pakistan, the military – which has seized power countless times since independence in 1947 -- was not thrilled with the verdict.

What We're Ignoring

A washed up Estonian singer's jibes at a Finnish "sales girl": Estonia's Interior Minister Mart Helme, a member of the country's rightwing Ekre party, landed in hot water this week after he disparaged Finland's new 34-year-old prime minister Sanna Marin, who worked as a cashier before she entered politics, as a "sales girl." That's big talk coming from a guy who used to front a mediocre 80s Estonian country/rock band. We're ignoring this story, because unlike Mr Helme, we know that retail is hard work -- especially around the holidays.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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"There needs to be a dramatic and deep reduction in the amount of debt on the poorest countries. That's clear." As the world's poorest nations struggle to recover from a devastating pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass argues that freeing them of much of their debt will be key. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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