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14 October 2019

Five things you need to know today: Brexit edges closer, and Kurds reach deal with Syria

Also: SNP back drugs decriminalisation.

By New Statesman

Yet more Brexit talks due

This weekend’s technical talks between the UK and Brussels over the terms of Brexit proved “constructive”, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said, but what is described as a “big gap” over the terms of a final deal remains. Both sides seemed more positive on the possibility of getting a deal this week than they had a few days earlier – but the sticking point, as ever, remains the relationship between the customs union and the Northern Ireland border. Discussions continue today.

Kurds reach deal with Syria

Kurdish forces have reached a deal with the Syrian government, under which they will give up control of territory in the north east of the country in exchange for military support against the advancing Turkish forces. The deal, brokered by Russia, is the result of President Trump’s unexpected decision to pull US troops out of the area.

Chinese president warns on Hong Kong

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Attempts to divide China will end in “crushed bodies and shattered bones,” Xi Jinping has said. The Chinese president was speaking in Nepal as pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong clashed with riot police. Police claimed to have used minimum force.

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SNP backs drug reform 

The Scottish National Party has backed the decriminalisation of possession and consumption of illegal drugs. Delegates at the party’s annual conference in Aberdeen unanimously condemned existing laws as “not fit for purpose” on Sunday and called for drugs policy, still set by Westminster, to be devolved to Holyrood. 

New record set in Chicago 

Kenyan runner Brigid Kosgei has set a new world record after completing the Chicago Women’s Marathon in 2 hours, 14 minutes and 4 seconds – a full 81 seconds faster than existing record holder Paula Radcliffe. Kosgei was also a full seven minutes faster than the second-placed runner, Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh.