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.

As Europe inches past the peak of COVID-19 deaths and the US slowly approaches it, many poorer countries are now staring into an abyss. As bad as the coronavirus crisis is likely to be in the world's wealthiest nations, the public health and economic blow to less affluent ones, often referred to as "developing countries," could be drastically worse. Here's why:

More Show less

25: A divorce lawyer in Shanghai told Bloomberg News that his business has surged 25% since the city began easing its lockdown in mid-March, as being cooped up on lockdown evidently exposed irreconcilable differences in people's marriages.

More Show less

Japan mulls state of emergency: Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe is poised to declare a "state of emergency" because of the coronavirus pandemic, giving local governments the authority to order people to stay in their homes and shutter businesses and schools. Japan has so far managed the crisis without the kinds of sweeping lockdowns seen elsewhere, but a surge of new cases in recent days – particularly in Tokyo – has put pressure on the government to do more. Japan has one of the world's oldest populations – a third of its people are older than 65, the demographic most vulnerable to COVID-19. The emergency decision comes at a tough time. Japan's economy has been hurting for several months now, as China's massive lockdowns in January and February cratered demand for Japanese exports. In order to deal with the fallout that comes with putting his economy on life-support, PM Abe said the government would push through a $1 trillion stimulus package.

More Show less

As reports swirl from sources in the U.S. Intelligence Community that China vastly underreported the number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths, China's top diplomat in the U.S., Ambassador Cui Tiankai, joined Ian Bremmer for an exclusive conversation in which he responds to the claim.

More Show less