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11 September 2019

Five things you need to know: Tom Watson urges Labour to back Brexit vote before election

Plus, international students to be offered two-year work visa, Netanyahu vows to annex parts of West Bank. 

By New Statesman

Labour split: Watson backs Brexit referendum before election

Labour must prioritise reversing Brexit through a second referendum before seeking to win power at an early general election, the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson will say today. In a speech to the Creative Industries Federation conference in London, Watson will set himself against Jeremy Corbyn by warning that “the only way to break the Brexit deadlock once and for all is a public vote in a referendum “ and that a “general election might well fail to solve this Brexit chaos”. He will add that if an election is held before a referendum, Labour must “unambiguously and unequivocally back Remain”. Following meetings with trade union leaders on Tuesday, Corbyn has refused to commit to backing Remain and has maintained Labour would seek to secure a better Brexit deal if possible.

International students to be offered two-year visas in break with May policy

International students are to be offered a two-year work visa after graduating from a UK university, the government has announced, in a notable break with Theresa May’s policy stance. At present, overseas students are allowed to look for work for just four months after completing their degree. As home secretary in 2012, May introduced the strict limit and warned that previous policy was “too generous”. But the move has been blamed for a fall in the number of international students.

Trump fires John Bolton after foreign policy clashes

Donald Trump has dramatically fired his national security adviser John Bolton, stating that he “disagreed strongly with his suggestions”. The US President’s willingness to negotiate with Iran, Russia, North Korea and, most recently, the Taliban had contrasted with Bolton’s typically hardline stance. Trump once reportedly joked that “John has never seen a war he doesn’t like”. Bolton, the third national security to be fired since the president entered office, has insisted that he resigned, rather than being sacked. In a terse, two-line letter to Trump, he wrote: “I hereby resign, effective immediately, as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Thank you for affording me this opportunity to serve our country.”

Netanyahu vows to annex parts of West Bank if re-elected

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to annex large parts of the West Bank if he returns to office in next week’s general election. Netanyahu appeared in front of a large map on an easel that showed Israeli sovereignty extended over the vast majority of the Jordan Valley. Though Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967, it has previously stopped short of annexation. Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat warned that such a move would be a “war crime” that would “bury any chance of peace”.

Retailers demand action after record number of high street closures

Retailers have demanded urgent government intervention after new research showed that the number of shops, pubs and restaurants lying empty is rising at the fastest pace since current records began. Around 16 stores closed their doors every day in the first half of 2019 while only nine opened, resulting in a net decline of 1,234 chain stores on Britain’s top 500 high streets according to analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Local Data Company. Fashion retailers suffered the biggest decline in the period, followed by restaurants, estate agents and pubs. But there were more openings of takeaways and sport and health clubs.

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