All posts by MPolitics

Turkey’s Erdogan Threatens to Close 2 US Military Bases

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday threatened to close two strategic military bases used by the United States in Turkey, after Washington warned of sanctions over Ankara buying Russian arms.”If necessary, we can close Incirlik and we can close Kurecik,” Erdogan on the pro-government A Haber television channel. The two bases sit on Turkey’s southwest coast, near the border with Syria.Erdogan has regularly raised this possibility in the past, at times of tension between the two countries.The U.S. Air Force uses the airbase at Incirlik for raids on positions held by the  so-called Islamic State group in Syria. The Kurecik base houses a major NATO radar station.FILE – U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter jets (foreground) are pictured at Incirlik Air Base, near Adana, Turkey, Dec. 11, 2015.Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu raised the issue of the bases last week. Responding to the U.S. threat of fresh sanctions, he warned that their closure could be “put on the table”.Turkey faces U.S. sanctions over its decision to buy the Russian S-400 missile defense system, despite warnings from Washington.And on Friday, Turkey summoned the U.S. ambassador after the U.S. Senate followed the lower house and voted to recognize the 1915 killings of Armenians as genocide. The bill has yet to be signed by President Donald Trump.Armenia claims 1.5 million died in the killings. Turkey says the number of deaths was far lower and Turks also died, blaming the killings on the World War I.
 

China Pulls Football Game After Player’s Pro-Muslim Comments

Chinese state television pulled the scheduled live broadcast of a football (soccer) game following one of the players’ comments online criticizing the government’s treatment of its Muslim Uighur minority.China’s CCTV was scheduled to broadcast the football game between Arsenal and Manchester United, but instead decided to show a taped game between Tottenham Hotspur and the Wolverhampton Wanderers.Arsenal footballer Mesut Ozil posted on Twitter Friday comments condemning China’s crackdown on Muslim minorities in the Western region, while also criticizing other Muslim countries for not speaking up against abuses.”Korans are being burnt… Mosques are being shut down… Muslim schools are being banned… Religious scholars are being killed one by one… Brothers are forcefully being sent to camps,” Ozil wrote in Turkish on his Twitter account Friday.#HayırlıCumalarDoğuTürkistan 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/dJgeK4KSIk— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) December 13, 2019The U.S., the United Nations and various human rights groups have accused China of detaining an estimated one million ethnic Muslims in so-called “re-education camps” in the remote Western province of Xinjiang in an attempt to force them to renounce their religion and heritage.Chia’s state-run Global Times said on its Twitter account Sunday that CCTV made the decision to pull the game after Ozil’s comments had “disappointed fans and football governing authorities”.Arsenal posted on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, that the the content Ozil shared was “entirely Ozil’s personal opinion”. The team has not posted a response on Twitter or released and official statement.  

US Democrats Squabble Over Lessons of UK Election

Hours before the official result was complete for Britain’s general election, U.S. Democrats on the other side of the Atlantic were taking to social-media sites to draw quick conclusions on what Labour’s catastrophic defeat might mean for them and the electoral challenge they face with the 2020 White House contest.Forewarned by an exit poll, which suggested Britain’s storied Labour Party was heading for its worst election rebuff since 1935, one of the first Democrats to hit the send button was Ben Rhodes, a former deputy national security advisor to Barack Obama.He tweeted: “There are a lot of factors that went into this massive defeat, but progressives have to learn from them to do better on both sides of the Atlantic.”But that begs the crucial question: what lessons?Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is seen near his home in London, Britain, December 14, 2019. REUTERS/Toby MelvilleOn the British side of the Atlantic, Labour politicians can’t agree about what went wrong for them in what’s likely to be seen as the most consequential British election for a quarter-of-a-century, with some, including defeated party leader Jeremy Corbyn, insisting that the radical socialist policies he advocated, including the nationalization of a swathe of the British economy, were individually popular and that the blame should go on Brexit.A key Corbyn ally, Len McCluskey, the leader of the powerful Unite trade union, said the policies in the party’s manifesto were “very popular,” but “we very evidently didn’t win the argument over Brexit” and the party’s policy of holding a second referendum on European Union membership. McCluskey said the party’s “biggest mistake” was “perhaps underestimating the desire for people who had voted Leave to leave the European Union.”But many Labour moderates believe Brexit-favoring working-class voters who deserted the party in droves would have overlooked the issue of Europe, if Labour had had a more popular and centrist leader and a manifesto shorn of leftwing dogma. In a post-election opinion poll, only 17 percent of Labour defectors cited Brexit as the reason for their switch to the Conservatives.”Jeremy Corbyn was destined to lead the Labour Party to a catastrophic defeat,” according to Jason Cowley, the editor of the New Statesman magazine, Britain’s leading leftwing weekly. “If he believed that the British would vote for the most radical socialist manifesto in our history, he was sadly deluded. The party has learned nothing from past defeats: the more it moves to the left, the more people are alienated,” he added in a post-mortem assessment for Britain’s The Times newspaper.Cowley says Labour has lost touch with Britain’s working-class and the party’s defeat Thursday is a parable of what can go wrong when a party rejects pragmatism for “ideological purity.”Some Democrats in the U.S.  worry that might be the case with their own party and say the British election should be seen as window on the 2020 presidential race.Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Nashua, N.H., Dec. 8, 2019.Former U.S. vice president Joe Biden, the current front-runner to win the Democratic nomination to take on Trump, has said that the British election should be taken as a warning against Democrats moving too far to the radical left ahead of the 2020 White House race.Speaking to supporters in San Francisco, Biden argued that the radicalism of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ultimately contributed to Boris Johnson’s landslide victory last week.Others on the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, too, fear that Labour’s defeat may foreshadow trouble for their bid to vanquish Trump, especially if the Democrats pick a progressive nominee like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren as their champion in the 2020 presidential election.Political trends on one side of the Atlantic have often presaged trends on the other, although often with time lags because of misaligned elections. Both countries were moderately conservative in the 1950s and Republican and Conservative governments accepted the welfare systems established by their predecessors in office and ideological rivals, Franklin Roosevelt and Britain’s Clement Attlee.In the 1960s both countries trended left, although were divided over the Vietnam War. In the 1980s, free-market conservatives — Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan — reshaped their nations’ politics.FILE – Tony Blair and Bill Clinton hold hands during an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 10, 2018.And in the 1990s “Third Way” Democrats, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, marched almost in lockstep to refashion their parties as market-friendly, seeking to blend center-right economics with center-left social policies. The 2016 Brexit referendum was seen by many, including Donald Trump’s then strategist Steve Bannon and Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s chief of staff, as foreshadowing Trump’s upset a few months later of Hillary Clinton, who saw her candidacy rebuffed in the fading towns of the “rust belt” states much like Corbyn was rejected in the post-industrial north of England.Nationalist conservatives rule the roost now in Washington and London, prioritizing the nation state over multilateralism and favoring tough immigration restrictions. The skirmishing by Democrats over the British election result is enmeshing with the fight over who should get the party’s presidential nomination.Democrats favoring a progressive candidate maintain there are no real lessons to draw from Johnson’s election win, echoing Corbyn supporters on the other side of the Atlantic by arguing Labour lost the election because of Brexit. “This UK election was ultimately an election about Brexit, and Brexit won. There’s no clean analogue to that in the U.S,” says Kate Aronoff, a senior fellow at Data for Progress, a progressive U.S. think tank.”The UK election was undeniably bad for Labour, but it doesn’t at all vindicate centrists saying the U.S. should make one of them the Democratic nominee. Left policies are popular,” she tweeted.Aronoff, like other U.S. progressives maintain that the kind of centrist politics espoused by establishment Democrats also got rebuffed by British voters in an election that dashed the hopes of Britain’s centrist Liberal Democrats, who presented themselves as a respectable alternative between the Conservatives and Labour. Their leader Jo Swinson even failed to get reelected as a lawmaker.People stand behind a banner supporting the results of the general election, in London, Britain, Dec. 13, 2019.Some commentators who’ve chronicled the rise of populist nationalism say neither moderates nor progressives have the grasped the full scale of the realignment of Western politics that’s underway. The UK vote wasn’t just any election, says Matthew Goodwin, an academic at Britain’s Kent University and co-author of the book “National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy.” “The old left versus right economic divide continues to make way for a new cultural divide.”He says Brexit was just one factor prompting working-class voters to trade left for right, with other driving issues coming down to promises of immigration reform and prioritizing national independence. Conservative nationalists have hit on a winning formula by leaning left on economics, with promises of increased government spending, and right on culture when it comes to identity politics and pledges to get tough on crime.Goodwin believes it is easier for the right to move left on economics than it is for the left to move right on questions of national identity which are worrying socially conservative working-class voters.  

Greta Thunberg, German Railway Company in Tweetstorm

Climate activist Greta Thunberg and Germany’s national railway company created a tweetstorm Sunday after she posted a photo of herself sitting on the floor of a train surrounded by lots of bags.The image has drawn plenty of comment online about the performance of German railways.Thunberg posted the tweet late Saturday with the comment “traveling on overcrowded trains through Germany. And I’m finally on my way home!”Traveling on overcrowded trains through Germany. And I’m finally on my way home! pic.twitter.com/ssfLCPsR8o
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 14, 2019But German railway company Deutsche Bahn suggested that Thunberg may not have spent the whole time sitting on the floor. And the 16-year-old Swedish activist later sought to draw a line under the matter by tweeting that she eventually got a seat and that overcrowded trains are a good thing.Some Twitter users expressed pity for Thunberg for not being able to get a proper seat on the train for the long ride home from Madrid, where she was attending the U.N. climate change conference. Others wished her a safe trip home after months of traveling by trains and boats to different climate events in Europe and the United States.Thunberg doesn’t fly on planes because it’s considered harmful to the climate. Last week, she was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for her efforts to prod government and others to take faster actions in fighting climate change.Deutsche Bahn, which used to be famous for its punctuality, has come under fire in recent years for delays, last-minute train cancellations and expensive ticket fares.In Deutsche Bahn’s first reply to the teenager’s initial tweet, the company wished her a good trip back home and adding that “we continue working hard on getting more trains, connections and seats.”Later, however, the railway company wrote in a statement to the media that Thunberg had a seat in first class between Kassel and Hamburg and that other members of her team were already sitting in first class from Frankfurt onwards.In the photo on Twitter, Thunberg is sitting on the floor at the end of a rail car with her back leaning against a suitcase, staring out of a window. There’s an empty food box next to her and more suitcases and backpacks piled up by her side.Later on Sunday, Deutsche Bahn tweeted twice more in regard to Thunberg’s train travels through Germany.
In the first tweet, the company thanks the teenager for supporting Deutsche Bahn’s battle against climate change and pointed out that the train she used had been running 100% on eco-friendly electricity.In the second tweet, however, Deutsche Bahn seemed to suggest that Thunberg hadn’t spent the entire train ride sitting on the floor.The company pointed out to the teenager that “it would have been even nicer if you had also reported how friendly and competently our team served you at your seat in first class.”Thunberg later tweeted that the fact she didn’t first sit in a seat wasn’t meant as a knock against Deutsche Bahn.She wrote that “this is no problem of course and I never said it was. Overcrowded trains is a great sign because it means the demand for train travel is high!” 

UK Opposition Chief Corbyn ‘Sorry’ for Election Wipeout

Britain’s main opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn apologized Sunday for waging a disastrous campaign that handed Prime Minister Boris Johnson a mandate to take the UK out of the EU next month.But the veteran socialist defended his far-left platform and blamed the media for helping relegate his century-old party to its worst performance since before World War II.”I will make no bones about it. The election result on Thursday was a body blow for everyone who so desperately needs real change in our country,” Corbyn wrote in the Sunday Mirror newspaper.”I wanted to unite the country that I love but I’m sorry that we came up short and I take my responsibility for it.”Thursday’s snap general election turned into a re-run of the 2016 EU membership referendum in which Johnson championed the Brexit cause.Johnson now commands an 80-vote majority in the 650-seat House of Commons  — a margin last enjoyed by the late Tory icon Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.A sombre but combative Corbyn said Friday that he will step aside once Labour completes a period of “reflection” about its mistakes.The party is expected to have a new leader in place before England votes yet again in local polls in May.Yet the 70-year-old has no clear successor after a year of infighting between a protectionist old guard backed by the unions and more metropolitan members with pro-European views.Corbyn tried to find a balance between the two camps by taking a neutral position on Brexit — a decision that Labour finance spokesman John McDonnell proved to be fatal.”What we tried to do is bring both sides together and we failed,” McDonnell told the BBC.Labour’s campaign was also dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism that forced a handful of senior lawmakers to resign.Corbyn tried to shift the campaign’s focus on bread-and-butter social issues important to Labour voters.”But despite our best efforts, this election was ultimately about Brexit,” Corbyn admitted in his letter.”The Tory campaign, amplified by most of the media, managed to persuade many that only Boris Johnson could ‘get Brexit done’,” he said in reference to Johnson’s campaign slogan.”We will learn the lessons of this defeat.”Soul-searchingThe soul-searching and recriminations have been accompanied by questions in other Western countries about how far left traditionally liberal voters are prepared to go.”Look what happens when the Labour party moves so, so far to the left,” U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden warned Friday.Yet Corbyn signaled Sunday that he wanted to leave behind a radical legacy that keeps Labour’s focus on vast social spending and redistribution of wealth.He came under intense criticism from more moderate supporters Sunday for claiming that his platform ultimately proved right.”I am proud that on austerity, on corporate power, on inequality and on the climate emergency we have won the arguments and rewritten the terms of political debate,” he wrote in a separate column in The Observer newspaper.Several prominent Labour members who are viewed as potential leaders sharply disagreed.”It’s time to try something different, rather than re-enacting old battles,” lawmaker Jess Phillips wrote in The Observer.”Everywhere I campaign, I heard the same thing. It was less about Brexit and more about belief. In these places of generations of Labour voting, they did not believe a Labour government would or could deliver for them.”Labour parliamentarian Lisa Nandy agreed that the party had “lost touch with the day-to-day… experience of many of the people we want to represent”.”If we are going to represent the country, we need to understand it, to see it as it really is, not how we might imagine it to be,” she wrote in The Observer.    

This Little Piggy Went to Court: German Piglets ‘Sue Over Castration’

Little piggies go to market, but in Germany they also go to court.In a legal first, animal rights activists have asked Germany’s top court to ban the practice of castrating young male pigs without anesthetic – with the piglets themselves listed as the plaintiffs.The painful procedure has become increasingly controversial in Europe and has been banned in Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.Farmers argue that the castration of piglets a few days after birth is necessary to prevent “boar taint”, the occasional occurrence of a foul smell when cooking pork from male pigs past puberty.The German parliament outlawed castration without pain relief in 2013 but it offered farmers a five-year transition period to help them adapt to the change – a timeline that was extended last year until 2021.Outraged by the inaction, the PETA campaign group filed a lawsuit with Germany’s Constitutional Court in November on behalf of the baby pigs.The group wants judges to recognize that pigs have rights similar to human rights and that these are being violated by the “cruel act” of castration without pain relief.”Non-human entities like companies and associations have legal personhood. So why not animals too?” said lawyer Cornelia Ziehm, who is supporting PETA in representing the piglets in court.’Little chance of succeeding’PETA argues that under German law, animals cannot be harmed without reasonable explanation.”The castration of piglets – with or without anesthesia – is in clear violation of this, giving Germany’s male piglets only one option: to sue for the enforcement of their rights in court,” the group said in a statement.The crux of the case is their argument that in Germany “everyone” (jedermann) can file a constitutional complaint if they believe their basic rights have been violated – even a pig.But Jens Buelte, a law professor at Mannheim university, doubted whether the judges in Karlsruhe would see it the same way.”Animals do not have their own rights under German law,” he said, giving PETA’s lawsuit “little chance of succeeding”.Monkey selfieIt is not the first time campaign groups have filed a case on behalf of animals.PETA made global headlines in 2015 when it asked an American court to grant a macaque the copyright to a selfie it snapped on a wildlife photographer’s camera.The picture of the broadly grinning monkey went viral but the court eventually ruled that animals cannot bring copyright infringement suits.PETA condemned the verdict, saying the monkey was “discriminated against simply because he’s a nonhuman animal”.However, in Argentina in 2016 a judge ordered Cecilia the chimpanzee to be released from Mendoza Zoo after agreeing with activists that she was entitled to basic rights and her solitary confinement was unlawful.AlternativesGerman farmers, who remove testicles from roughly 20 million piglets each year, have long resisted the push to end castration without anesthesia.They say there is a lack of workable alternatives to tackle boar taint, in an industry already struggling with fierce foreign competition.Local anesthesia and gene editing are not yet viable or too expensive, they say, and would raise the cost of pork in a country famous for its love of schnitzel and sausage.The government agreed in late 2018 to give the farmers a final two-year extension before the ban takes effect – a decision decried by the opposition Greens and far-left Die Linke, who argued it put the interests of the meat industry above animal protection.Some German pork producers are pinning their hopes on a vaccine that requires just two injections to prevent boar taint – already a popular alternative abroad.A pilot project involving 100,000 German piglets is currently ongoing, though critics say the vaccines are costly too.A similar debate is raging in France, where agriculture minister Didier Guillaume recently said castration of piglets without pain relief should be banned by the end of 2021.

Albania Seeks Arrests for Guake Deaths in Collapsed Buildings

Albanian prosecutors have issued a series of arrest warrants on charges including murder and abuse of office over the deaths of 51 people killed when a 6.4-magnitude earthquake toppled dozens of buildings last month, police said on Saturday.Police and prosecutors said initial investigations showed “the loss of life in the collapsed buildings came also because their builders, engineers and owners had failed to observe the rules, norms and standards of safe constructions.”Prosecutors issued 17 warrants in total, police said. Two of the nine people detained on Saturday on murder charges were the owners of two hotels that collapsed, killing four people in Durres, Albania’s second-biggest city and main port.A third was the manager of a police vacation hotel where a high-ranking police officer was killed under the rubble.During the three decades since toppling communism in 1990, many Albanians have moved nearer cities, squatting on land and building with little supervision by authorities.Many of the buildings have been legalized since then by governments eager to get votes but also seeking to urbanize such areas by putting in sewage systems and roads.Both hotels on the 10-mile long beach on the Adriatic Sea south of Durres port were built illegally, police said, and the second had also been legalized illegally.Police said that some of the 17 people being sought by prosecutors had fled after the Nov. 26 quake.The high-rises built during the post-Communist boom along the beach are mostly apartments and hotels catering to both Albanians and foreigners, including ethnic Albanians from the Balkans and the Diaspora. Most suffered no damage.Albania has yet to calculate the cost of rebuilding housing for the 14,000 people left homeless by the quake.

Frustrated Climate Activists Dump Manure Outside Madrid Summit

Green activists dumped horse manure and staged a mock hanging outside the venue of a U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Saturday, airing their frustration at the failure of world leaders to take meaningful action against global warming.Led by grass-roots group Extinction Rebellion, the actions were timed to coincide with the closing of the COP25 summit, where negotiators have been unable to agree on how to implement the 2015 Paris climate agreement.”Just like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, this COP’s fiddling of carbon accounting and negotiating of Article 6 is not commensurate to the planetary emergency we face,” Extinction Rebellion said in a statement.Twelve members of the group stood on melting blocks of ice, nooses drawn tight around their necks to symbolize the 12 months remaining until the next summit, when the Paris deal enters a make-or-break implementation phase.Attached to the pile of manure was a short message to leaders saying, “The horses— stops here.”In contrast to a protest held last weekend, in which hundreds of demonstrators blocked one of Madrid’s central shopping streets for a mass disco dance, the mood at the gathering was subdued.’Nothing has really changed'”Even if they reach an agreement, it’s still not enough. This is the 25th COP they’ve had and nothing has really changed,” protester Emma Deane told Reuters from her perch atop an ice block, holding her young daughter in her arms. “She’s going to grow up in a world where there’s no food on the shelves, and that breaks my heart.”Still, Extinction Rebellion spokesman Ronan McNern stressed the importance of humor in the face of the climate crisis.”Out of s— comes the best roses. We hope that the international community comes together to create a beautiful future,” McNern said.

Johnson’s Win May Deliver Brexit But Could Risk UK’s Breakup

Leaving the European Union is not the only split British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has to worry about.Johnson’s commanding election victory this week may let him fulfill his campaign promise to “get Brexit done,” but it could also imperil the future of the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland and Northern Ireland didn’t vote for Brexit, didn’t embrace this week’s Conservative electoral landslide — and now may be drifting permanently away from London.In a victory speech Friday, Johnson said the election result proved that leaving the EU is “the irrefutable, irresistible, unarguable decision of the British people.”Arguably, though, it isn’t. It’s the will of the English, who make up 56 million of the U.K.’s 66 million people. During Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership, England and much smaller Wales voted to leave bloc; Scotland and Ireland didn’t. In Thursday’s election, England elected 345 Conservative lawmakers — all but 20 of the 365 House of Commons seats Johnson’s party won across the U.K.In Scotland, 48 of the 59 seats were won by the Scottish National Party, which opposes Brexit and wants Scotland to become independent of the U.K.SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said her party’s “emphatic” victory showed that “the kind of future desired by the majority in Scotland is different to that chosen by the rest of the U.K.”The SNP has campaigned for decades to make Scotland independent and almost succeeded in 2014, when Scotland held a referendum on seceding from the U.K. The “remain” side won 55% to 45%.At the time, the referendum was billed as a once-in-a-generation decision. But the SNP argues that Brexit has changed everything because Scotland now faces being dragged out of the EU against its will.Sturgeon said Friday that Johnson “has no mandate whatsoever to take Scotland out of the EU” and Scotland must be able to decide its future in a new independence referendum.Johnson insists he will not approve a referendum during the current term of Parliament, which is due to last until 2024. Johnson’s office said the prime minister told the Scottish leader on Friday that “the result of the 2014 referendum was decisive and should be respected.”The Scotsman newspaper summed up the showdown Saturday with front page face-to-face images of Sturgeon and Johnson: “Two landslides. One collision course.””What we’ve got now is pretty close to a perfect storm,” said historian Tom Devine, professor emeritus at the University of Edinburgh. He said the U.K. is facing an “unprecedented constitutional crisis” as Johnson’s refusal to approve a referendum fuels growing momentum for Scottish independence.Politically and legally, it’s a stalemate. Without the approval of the U.K. government, a referendum would not be legally binding. London could simply ignore the result, as the Spanish government did when Catalonia held an unauthorized independence vote in 2017.Mark Diffley, an Edinburgh-based political analyst, said Sturgeon “has said that she doesn’t want a Catalonia-style referendum. She wants to do this properly.”There’s no clear legal route to a second referendum if Johnson refuses, though Sturgeon can apply political and moral pressure. Diffley said the size of the SNP’s win allows Sturgeon to argue that a new referendum is “the will of the people.”Sturgeon said that next week she will lay out a “detailed democratic case for a transfer of power to enable a referendum to be put beyond legal challenge.”Devine said the administrations in Edinburgh and London “are in a completely uncompromising condition” and that will only make the crisis worse.”The longer Johnson refuses to concede a referendum, the greater will the pro-independence momentum in Scotland accelerate,” he said. “By refusing to concede it, Johnson has ironically become a recruiting sergeant for increased militant nationalism.”Northern Ireland has its own set of political parties and structures largely split along British unionist/Irish nationalist lines. There, too, people feel cast adrift by Brexit, and the political plates are shifting.For the first time this week, Northern Ireland elected more lawmakers who favor union with Ireland than want to remain part of the U.K.The island of Ireland, which holds the U.K.’s only land border with the EU, has proved the most difficult issue in Brexit negotiations. Any customs checks or other obstacles along the currently invisible frontier between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland would undermine both the local economy and Northern Ireland’s peace process.The divorce deal struck between Johnson and the EU seeks to avoid a hard border by keeping Northern Ireland closely aligned to EU rules, which means new checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.”Once you put a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland’s going to be part of a united Ireland for economic purposes,” Jonathan Powell, who helped negotiate Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace accord, told the BBC. “That will increase the tendency toward a united Ireland for political reasons, too.”I think there is a good chance there will be a united Ireland within 10 years.”In Scotland, Devine also thinks the days of the Union may be numbered.”Anything can happen,” he said. “But I think it’s more likely than not that the U.K. will come to an end over the next 20 to 30 years.
 

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