October 23rd Briefing: Kurdish withdrawal, WeWork rescue, Brexit dilemma and more…

By November 1, 2019 No Comments

Brexit deal has ups and downs

The UK’s House of Common agreed to let Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deal with the European Union move forward but not to his schedule for doing so. MPs passed the second reading of the withdrawal bill by 329 votes to 299. They rejected a motion that would give them only three days to debate it by 322 to 308.

Mr Johnson said yesterday he would pull the bill if it the timetable wasn’t agreed to. Instead, he will use an extension from the EU over Brexit to fight a general election, though he lacks the majority needed to call one.

Beijing has plans to replace Carrie Lam

The Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, looks set to be replaced by an interim figure according to plans drawn up by the Chinese government in Beijing. If Xi Jinping agrees that Ms Lam, who has overseen Hong Kong’s descent into persistent protests over the past half year, needs to go, her replacement will stay on until 2022, when Ms Lam’s term ends.

Norman Chan, a banker, and Henry Tang, a Hong Kong politician, are favourites to replace Ms Lam. Protestors want Ms Lam to be removed from office as well.

SoftBank rescues WeWork

The office-space rental company was due to IPO earlier this year, though it lost much of its $47bn value after its accounts were made public. Failure to IPO has left it strapped for cash, with some reports saying that it only has enough money on hand to last until November. Now its biggest backer is set to rescue it.

SoftBank will pour in up to $6.5bn into the company as it takes full control. Adam Neumann will relinquish control and step down as chairman, and get $1.7bn for doing so. The plan will value the company at $8bn.

US diplomat to Ukraine testifies

William Taylor, who was appointed as interim US ambassador to the Ukraine in June, testified behind closed doors yesterday to a group of Democrat politicians. They are looking into the possibility of impeaching President Donald Trump over his dealings with Ukraine.

Mr Taylor said that he had heard US aid was being withheld from Ukraine until they acted against Joe Biden, a political rival of Donald Trump, and investigated the 2016 election which saw Mr Trump become president.

Russia and Turkey agree Syria deal

Presidents Erdogan and Putin said yesterday that the two nations had agreed a deal that would see the Kurds vacate a 120km safe zone near the border with Turkey. Russian and Turkish troops would jointly make sure Kurdish fighters did not return to the area. The safe zone will be resettled by Syrian refugees taken in by Turkey.

Kurdish forces invited President Bashar al-Assad back into the area to help fight against the Turkish army. But President Putin, allied to Syria and friendly with Turkey, has stopped cooperation between the two.