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Boris Johnson Bets on No-Deal Threat

Plus: Negotiations and protest in Sudan, the second round of the U.S. Democratic debates, and the other stories we’re following today.

By , a senior editor at Foreign Policy.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he visits the HMS Victorious on July 29 in Faslane, Scotland.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he visits the HMS Victorious on July 29 in Faslane, Scotland.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he visits the HMS Victorious on July 29 in Faslane, Scotland. Jeff J Mitchell - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Boris Johnson issues another no-deal Brexit threat, transition talks begin again in Sudan, and Detroit hosts the second round of U.S. Democratic debates.

We welcome your feedback at morningbrief@foreignpolicy.com.


Boris Johnson Tries to Force EU to the Table

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Boris Johnson issues another no-deal Brexit threat, transition talks begin again in Sudan, and Detroit hosts the second round of U.S. Democratic debates.

We welcome your feedback at morningbrief@foreignpolicy.com.


Boris Johnson Tries to Force EU to the Table

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday in Scotland that he won’t meet EU leaders to negotiate a Brexit deal until they grant some concessions. The prime minister appears to be banking on the idea that the threat of a no-deal Brexit will convince EU leaders to revise the deal they negotiated with former Prime Minister Theresa May. Johnson will visit Wales courting support today.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said the government is “turbo-charging” preparations for a no-deal Brexit, as ministers do not expect the European Union to return to the table. That includes a public information campaign that local media have reported would be the largest state-funded advertising blitz since World War II.

The backstop. Johnson’s government wants the European Union to remove the Irish backstop—an insurance mechanism to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and ensure that both remain the EU Customs Union in the case of a no-deal Brexit. Johnson has not spoken with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

In Ireland, the threat of a no-deal Brexit and fears of a hard border has revived the debate over Irish national identity and increased support for a united Ireland, Jonathan Gorvett writes for FP. “Irish unity may therefore be among the many unintended consequences of the current Brexit debacle,” he notes.

What will Scotland do? The prospect of a no-deal Brexit also faces opposition in Scotland. Johnson met with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh on Monday, and she reiterated her position that Scotland’s residents should be able to “choose their own future, not have that future imposed upon them.” Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, while backing the idea of leaving the European Union, also opposes a no-deal Brexit and has publicly declared that she won’t support her own party’s government if it seeks to leave without a deal.

The plummeting pound. Investors also reacted to the government’s rhetoric: The British pound fell below $1.22 against the U.S. dollar early Tuesday morning—the lowest rate in more than two years—and continues to drop.


What We’re Following Today

Talks resume in Sudan, opposition calls for street protest. Sudan’s opposition and its ruling military council have yet to finalize a transition deal amid ongoing disagreements, and are set to resume talks today. Ahead of the negotiations the deputy head of the council, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagolo, met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo. Egypt has supported Sudan’s military government since President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April.

Meanwhile, the organization that led the protests that brought down Bashir has again called for nationwide demonstrations after four schoolchildren and one adult were shot dead during a student protest in the central city of El-Obeid on Monday. Many others were injured.

U.S. Democratic candidates take the stage. The first group of candidates will face off in the second round of the U.S. Democratic presidential debates today, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders on stage together for the first time. With 20 candidates in the running, it’s hard to keep track of their policy positions. Ahead of the event tonight in Detroit, FP rounded up the candidates’ views on foreign policy.

Russian critic Navalny alleges poisoning. The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was discharged from the hospital on Monday and took to social media to say that he may have been poisoned, blaming Russian authorities for the incident. The accusation comes after a crackdown on an opposition rally over the weekend in Moscow and amid fears that Navalny is a Kremlin target. Navalny is serving a short prison sentence for organizing the protest, and opposition figures have called for another on Saturday.


Keep an Eye On

Prison violence in Brazil. At least 52 inmates were killed during a riot in a jail in the Brazilian state of Pará on Monday, the latest deadly prison gang clash in the country this year. While President Jair Bolsonaro campaigned on a pledge to combat crime, prison violence has persisted. Brazil has the world’s third-highest prison population, and its jail gangs have been connected to drug trafficking and arms smuggling.

Greece’s academic sanctuary law. This week, the Greek government will propose throwing out an academic sanctuary law designed to shield student protesters from the police. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says it has created “an asylum for lawlessness.” The law, which followed a 1973 military crackdown that killed dozens of students, has been scrapped and reinstated a few times.

Ukraine’s Russian-language TV channel. Ukraine has announced plans to launch a state-run, TV channel in Russian as part of a strategy to win over people in the separatist Donbass region and Russia. The channel is expected to cover global news. In the contest for influence, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently made it easier for Donbass residents to get Russian passports.

Drug-resistant malaria. Scientists are alarmed after two recent studies have shown an increase in drug-resistant malaria strains in southeast Asia. While the strains are currently contained, they pose a danger if they spread to regions with higher malaria rates. Southeast Asia has a history of malaria resistance, the Washington Post reports.

Radicalization in Syria’s refugee camps. Across northern Syria, there are an estimated 130,000 women and children living in refugee camps. As the U.S. military plans its withdrawal from the region, its leaders are growing concerned about the risk of extremist ideology and radicalization in the camps, Lara Seligman reports.

For behind-the-scenes analysis on stories like this, subscribe to Security Brief Plus, delivered on Thursdays.


Odds and Ends

The teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg doesn’t fly to avoid the large carbon footprint of air travel. So to attend two U.N. climate summits in the United States and Chile next month, she will cross the Atlantic Ocean in an emissions-free high-speed racing yacht. (She is not yet sure how she’ll get from New York to Santiago). The trans-Atlantic trip should take two weeks.

Next month, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, will appear with the adventurer and TV presenter Bear Grylls in an episode of the survival show Man vs Wild filmed in India. It’s the latest in a series of media appearances designed to boost Modi’s masculine image, the Guardian reports.


That’s it for today. 

For more from FP, subscribe here or sign-up for our other newsletters. Send your tips, comments, questions, or typos to morningbrief@foreignpolicy.com.  

Audrey Wilson is a senior editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @audreybwilson

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