Top story: Arlene Foster throws up wall over Irish border
Good morning, it’s Warren Murray bringing you the briefing today.
The cost of governing with DUP support has been hammered home to Theresa May after the Northern Ireland unionists dramatically scuppered a Brexit breakthrough over the Irish border.
The plan had been to keep Northern Ireland aligned with EU laws, avoiding the need for a hard border with the Republic. But DUP leader Arlene Foster said: “We will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the United Kingdom.” Leaders in anti-Brexit Scotland and London suggested that if the special status for Northern Ireland went ahead, they might demand a similar arrangement.
EU leaders were shocked by the development – while May was left in alignment only with herself, writes John Crace. There is now immense pressure on her government to strike a deal that will allow talks to proceed to trade and a transition period.
Travel ban win for Trump – The US supreme court has allowed Donald Trump’s administration to enforce its travel ban covering six mostly Muslim countries and two others. Appeals against the ban are continuing in various courts – but for the time being, the United States will refuse entry visas to prospective travellers from the countries of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, plus North Korea and Venezuela – unless there are “bona fide” business, family or other reasons. A final ruling on the ban’s validity is expected in the coming months.
Separately in US politics, the Republican party leadership has reinstated its support for Roy Moore, the Senate candidate accused of sexual misconduct. Several women have accused Moore of groping or propositioning them as teenagers – allegations he has denied. “Go get ’em Roy,” Donald Trump reportedly told Moore in a phone call yesterday, and an official from the Republican National Committee said it was also backing the former Alabama judge. But some Republicans including Mitt Romney remain horrified at the thought of Moore being elected.
Army war crimes inquiry – The Hague war crimes court has warned of possible prosecutions against British soldiers who served in the Iraq war. Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor at the ICC, declared there was a “reasonable basis” to believe prisoners were abused and unlawfully killed between 2003 and 2008. An ICC investigation that was put on hold in 2006 has been revived based on new information. The British government has said its own investigations, known as IHAT and Operation Northmoor, mean there is no need for the ICJ to intervene.
Saleh killed – Yemen’s former strongman president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has been killed by Houthi rebels after he turned his back on their movement and sought to broker peace with Saudi Arabia. Saleh ruled Yemen for more than 30 years but was ousted in 2011 as part of the Arab spring political revolution. The country then descended into civil war, and Saudi Arabia has tried but thus far failed to bomb the Iranian-backed Houthis into submission. On Saturday, Saleh denounced the Houthis and said he was seeking a dialogue with the Saudis. One expert warned his death left the Saudis without an interlocutor in Yemen and they might “take the gloves off” in their fight against the Houthis.
‘We’re tired of this’ – Police in Honduras are refusing to obey orders from the incumbent government amid a deepening crisis over disputed election results. President Juan Orlando Hernández is accused of rigging the poll a week ago – his opponent, Salvador Nasralla, was in front with more than half the votes counted, before the count suddenly slowed and Nasralla’s lead ebbed away. Protests and deadly riots have followed; international observers are calling for a recount.
Apple tax row – The Irish government is being forced to accept €13bn in back taxes from Apple that it does not actually want. EU authorities previously ruled that Apple had for years enjoyed illegal tax benefits by Ireland, where it has its European headquarters. The Irish government has been ordered to collect the full arrears but does not want to dent the country’s attractiveness as a low-tax business gateway to the EU. Brussels authorities have announced the money will go into a holding account while the European commission rules on the matter.
Lunchtime read: How to fight a war on drugs
Portugal needed a radical answer to an intractable heroin problem, and it found one: decriminalisation. Since 2001, rather than being arrested, those caught with a personal supply of drugs get a warning, small fine, or an order to undergo education about treatment, harm reduction, and support services for addicts.