Japanese banks warn on Brexit, Aleppo evacuation stalls and the year of the demagogue
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Japanese financial institutions have put the UK government on notice over Brexit. Executives from Japanese groups have told ministers that without clarity on the UK’s future relationship with the EU they will be forced to move some functions from their London bases within six months. The companies are particularly concerned about the issue of “passporting”, which allows banks to use London as a base for business across the European Economic Area. The news comes a day after Lloyd’s of London announced it was setting up a timetable on plans to move part of its operation to the EU in preparation for Brexit.
Britain’s chancellor, Philip Hammond, wants a transitional deal with the EU so that companies will not face a regulatory cliff edge when Britain leaves the bloc, but many of his cabinet colleagues say such a deal is unnecessary. The prime minister has so far refused to clarify the government’s plans on the issue, saying only “Brexit means Brexit”.
Meanwhile, FT experts giving their investment outlook on Brexit (among other issues) conclude the only certainty about Britain’s exit from the bloc is uncertainty. (FT)
In the news
Obama vows action against Russia The outgoing US president has pledged to retaliate against Russia for its alleged interference in the US presidential election campaign. It is unclear what action the US intends to take. Republican president-elect Donald Trump has dismissed the hacking claim by intelligence agencies as “ridiculous” and the Kremlin has rejected any knowledge of the cyber attack. (BBC, FT)
Aleppo evacuation interrupted The Syrian government has suspended the evacuation of fighters and wounded civilians from eastern Aleppo, accusing the rebels of blocking a reciprocal evacuation of civilians from besieged pro-government towns. On Thursday convoys of green buses and ambulances ferried some 6,000 people out of the last opposition enclave of the northern Syrian city. Images from the city show the extent of devastation in the area. EU leaders have condemned Russia and Iran over the Aleppo carnage but those are the very two countries that could decide what happens now. (BBC, FT, BuzzFeed, The Conversation)
Japan largest holder of US Treasuries China has ceded its status as America’s largest creditor nation to Japan after spending a large portion of its foreign exchange reserves to defend the renminbi. “The days of China providing abundant and cheap financing for [the] US . . . may have come to an end,” one expert said. (FT)
Trump’s ambassador to Israel Another day, another controversial nominee. Donald Trump has appointed a pro-settlement bankruptcy lawyer as ambassador to Israel. David Friedman, who has questioned the need for a two-state solution with the Palestinians and vowed to move the US embassy to the divided city of Jerusalem, has dismayed liberal Jews and Palestinians, and pleased Israel’s settlement movement. He’s also a fan of Vladimir Putin. (NYT, Haaretz, Guardian)
Calling a fake a fake Facebook will test new ways to report and flag fake news this week. It comes as the FT reports on the more than 100 hoax US politics sites being run by entrepreneurial Macedonian teenagers, which are attracting millions of clicks and shares. But many believe that Facebook’s plans do not go far enough. (FT, New Republic)
Test your knowledge with the week in news quiz. Donald Trump has threatened to tear up which major US foreign policy?
It's a big day for
UK commuters Hundreds of thousands of passengers on Southern, the troubled commuter rail service, on Friday face a third day this week with no service after talks aimed at halting drivers’ strikes ended without a resolution. (FT)
Food for thought
The year of the demagogue FT editor Lionel Barber on how 2016 changed democracy: “Brexit and the Trump triumph mark a revolutionary moment. Not quite 1789 or 1989, but certainly a thundering repudiation of the status quo.” (FT)
Inside China’s ‘killer app’ factory Tencent is China’s answer to Facebook, WhatsApp, Spotify, Kindle and ApplePay. The Hong Kong-listed company keeps its 846m subscribers glued to their phones and dabbles in artificial intelligence, electric cars and bike sharing. (FT)
When is a tweet just a tweet? A debate is percolating in the US State Department on how to handle Donald Trump’s Twitter commentary if he continues to tweet after he becomes president. “I have never hesitated to take anything that POTUS said in speeches, press conferences and other remarks as anything but policy,” one diplomat said. “But what about tweets?” (Reuters)
Lunch with the FT Over stewed pig’s trotters in London, comedian Trevor Noah talks about growing up mixed-race in South Africa and why the ‘real fun’ in US politics is about to begin. (FT)
Forget the shrimp cocktail An investigation into how antibiotic-tainted seafood from China ends up on your table. “We cannot trace if the shrimp is coming from Thailand or from China or from other countries.” (Bloomberg)
Video of the day
Big speeches of 2016 reviewed The seismic events of 2016, including Donald Trump’s election as US president and the UK’s Brexit vote, have made it a remarkable year for rhetoric. Sam Leith reviews some of this year’s biggest speeches and how they changed the language of politics. (FT)