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Formal talks over the UK’s exit from the EU may not begin until autumn 2017 or later, say senior officials in Brussels and London. Comparing the coming months to the “ phoney war” after the start of the second world war, diplomats caution that the delays will mean continued business uncertainty. There is disagreement among UK Conservatives over how quickly to break from the European Union, with Brexiters fearing that delays could weaken the government’s commitment to a “hard” deal.

News of the delays comes amid expectations that the Bank of England will this week downgrade its growth forecasts following the vote to leave the EU, and explain what action it will take in response.

Meanwhile, British regulators have told at least one leading EU bank that it will not be forced to establish a separately capitalised UK subsidiary as a result of the Brexit vote, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told the Financial Times. (FT)

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In the news

Rebel offensive in Aleppo Opposition groups in besieged areas of Aleppo have begun an offensive against government forces. The battle is an attempt by rebels to reconnect areas under their control with opposition territory to the west of the city. It comes after the Syrian army and its allies tightened their siege on opposition-held areas last week. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped in Aleppo and the UN says that supplies of food and water will run out by the end of the month. (Reuters, BBC)

Ride-hailing revolution Uber will merge its China business with Didi Chuxing, the dominant ride-hailing service in the country, according to people familiar with the matter. The valuation of the combined ride-hailing company is said to be about $35bn. (Bloomberg)

Tokyo’s first female governor Yuriko Koike, a former newscaster and defence minister, has won a resounding victory in Tokyo’s gubernatorial election, putting her on course to become one of Japan’s most powerful female politicians in history. Her victory is also a rare sign of limits to the prime minister’s power. (FT)

Turkey exports its crackdown The Turkish authorities have urged countries in central Asia and Africa to close institutions funded by Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric who President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames for the failed putsch. (FT)

Seoul fears Beijing’s wrath South Korea may be subject to economic retaliation from China after Seoul ignored Beijing’s repeated objections and agreed with the US to install a missile defence system on the Korean Peninsula. (NAR)

It's a big day for

Iceland Gudni Johannesson is to take office as the new president of the Nordic country — the first in 20 years — after the history professor won 39 per cent of the vote in a June poll. (FT) 

Food for thought

Puffins under threat Numbers of the iconic, parrot-faced seabird have plummeted, leaving them vulnerable to extinction. Scientists think that a change in the status of cold-water zooplankton, the staple diet of the puffin’s favourite food, the sand eel, are behind the drop in numbers. (New Statesman)

The price of Olympic glory The spiralling cost of putting on the world’s largest sporting event poses the greatest threat to its future, with city after city ditching Olympic ambitions as residents balk at the price. Meanwhile, athletes — already unhappy with facilities in the Olympic Village — are complaining that they cannot access Pokémon Go. (FT, Quartz)

The trick for going green Of all the measures tried by the world’s policymakers to encourage drivers to buy more environmentally-friendly vehicles, fuel taxes remain the most effective. But they are also the most politically unpalatable. (Economist)

MH370 pilot plot? Air crash experts say the portion of wing from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that was found in Madagascar last year appears to have been extended, suggesting that it was deliberately brought down in the Indian Ocean by rogue pilot. (Guardian)

America’s highway hypnosis Sixty years ago the US funnelled billions of dollars into reinventing its roads. The result was precisely designed highways that connected the nation both commercially and culturally. Yet the comfort and ease offered by these new arteries belied something more ominous: the birth of highway hypnosis. (The Atlantic)

Video of the day

A look at the week ahead Josh de la Mare looks at some of the big stories in the coming week, including the start of the Rio 2016 Olympics, results from miner Rio Tinto, US jobs data and the Bank of England’s likely decision on rates. (FT)

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