Friday briefing: Brexit bill dismissed as ‘power grab’

Good morning – this is Martin Farrer with the news from the UK and around the world you need this Friday morning.

Theresa May’s hopes of steering the great EU repeal bill through parliament look increasingly remote today without major redrafting after the Scottish and Welsh nationalists both said they could not accept the legislation without substantial changes. After the Labour party demanded significant softening of the key Brexit bill in exchange for its support, the SNP and Plaid Cymru said the bill – which is designed to bring years of EU law on to the UK statue books – was “a naked power grab”.

While the prime minister was digesting that salvo, Jeremy Corbyn was in Brussels for talks with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator to outline Labour’s stance. Corbyn denied he was in parallel talks Michel Barnier but he did have a gift for the French sports fan – an Arsenal shirt.

If you want to catch up with the latest commentary on Brexit, Martin Kettle writes today that with May trapped by her party’s toxic politics, is time to reject the Brexit “fantasy”. However, John Harris says that although left-liberal opinion might hope that Brexit will never happen, politicians could not survive the backlash.

Acid attacks – A teenager has been arrested early this morning on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and robbery after a string of acid attacks that took place in less than 90 minutes in east London. One of the five victims – four of whom were male – was said to have suffered “life-changing” injuries. The Metropolitan police said the incidents appeared to be linked, and two involved victims having their mopeds stolen.

‘Unbreakable bond’ – The US president made a stab at brushing years of mutual mistrust under the carpet on his state visit to France, describing the countries’ bond as “unbreakable”. As he prepares to celebrate Bastille Day today, his soothing words to French counterpart Emmanuel Macron were a far cry from the “surrender monkeys” pejorative but coined by The Simpsons which came to epitomise relations between the two nations when France refused to join in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Cooperation in Syria has helped to ease tensions and Trump even managed to hint that he could shift his hardline on the Paris climate deal.

Dinner at the Eiffel Tower for the Trumps and Macrons looked very convivial and may have helped Trump forget his troubles back home. But he was soon under fire for “creepy” comments that Macron’s wife, Brigitte, was in “such good shape”.

In addition, the Guardian has learned that Trump’s companies employ a law firm managed by a Philippine government official, the latest in a string of potential conflicts of interests stemming from the first family’s global business empire.

Free Liu Xia – The international community has been urged to protect the wife of Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident who has died of liver cancer while serving an 11-year jail sentence. Activists fear that China’s rulers will not honour Liu’s dying wish that his wife Liu Xia be allowed to leave the country. She has been forced to live under constant surveillance since her husband was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2010. Jerome Cohen, of New York University’s US-Asia Law Institute, urged foreign governments to “put enormous pressure on the Chinese leadership”.

Work-life imbalance – Working long hours is not only bad for your social life, but can be bad for your heart as well, a study says. Clocking up more than 55 hours a week means a 40% higher chance of developing an irregular heartbeat, when compared to those with a better work-life balance. The 10-year study of 85,494 mainly middle-aged men and women from the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Finland found that those working the longest hours were more overweight, had higher blood pressure, smoked more and and consumed more alcohol.

Gross, man: eels slime an Oregon highway. Photograph: Oregon State Police

Slippery when met – Despite the onset of a global slime craze, the scene on an Oregon highway yesterday might be a bit too much for even the most gunk-devoted child. A truck-load of eels was dumped over the road, covering cars and the highway in the slippery critters’ excretions. The eels – which are properly known as hagfish – were bound for Korea where they are a delicacy of the local cuisine.

Lunchtime read: Is the era of globalisation at an end?

Globalisation has improved the living standards of many people in the developing world, but at what cost? Photograph: Roman Pilipey/EPA

It was once hailed as the key to long-term prosperity in the west and the chance to see an unprecedented raising of living standards in the developing world. Critics of globalisation were once dismissed as giving “ammunition to the barbarians”, but their predictions of rising inequality and a brakdown in the political consensus have come true. Nikil Saval charts the rise and fall of the one of the most important developments of our time and asks whether the pursuit of globalisation precludes a functioning democracy and national determination.


Johanna Konta has insisted she is not far away from being able to win a grand slam title despite falling short against Venus Williams in her first semi-final, and the Wimbledon crowd can expect more nailbiting moments from her in the future. On the men’s side, Roger Federer is looking untouchable as old injuries do for his younger rivals, while Andy Roddick, one of the most decorated American players of his generation, has thrown away most of his trophies during a recent cleaning spree. And in cricket, England skipper Joe Root has admitted a small part of him is looking forward to greater challenges as the second test starts in Nottingham.


The City’s watchdog is proposing to change the stock market’s rules to tempt the Saudi state oil firm Aramco to list in London, something that would provide a bonanza for bankers, brokers and lawyers. Wall Street, which hit another record high on Thursday, is also in the running for the IPO.

The pound is buying $1.295 and €1.134.

The papers

Theresa May’s looming parliamentary problems are given a good airing today with the Times, Guardian and i all leading with the threat by Scottish and Welsh parties to scupper the great repeal bill.

The Mail continues with its campaign about the ambulance service, reporting under the headline “Heart attack? wait longer for ambulance” that a 999 shakeup means longer waiting times.

With a headline saying “Squeezing rich harms economy”, the Telegraph leads with a warning that Britain’s reliance on tax revenues from the wealthy leaves the country’s finances vulnerable to financial shock.

The Sun leads with news that the families of victims of the 1982 Hyde park bomb are furious that the suspect John Downey received £50,000 in legal aid. The Mirror says its campaign to change the law around organ donors is a step closer ro fruition.

The FT splashes on possible City regulatory changes designed to lure Saudi state oil company Aramco into listing in London.