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18 March 2015updated 07 Jun 2021 5:32pm

Five things you need to know today: Boris Johnson to “step up tempo” of Brexit talks

By New Statesman

Brexit crisis: UK and EU to meet twice a week 

Boris Johnson has vowed to “step up the tempo” of Brexit negotiations with the EU in an attempt to secure a new deal before the UK’s scheduled departure on 31 October. The Prime Minister announced that both sides would meet twice a week in advance of the pivotal European Council summit on 17-18 October. Johnson, who intends to suspend parliament for five weeks from 11 September in a bid to stop MPs obstructing Brexit, said that he had been “encouraged” by conversations with EU leaders that “there is a willingness to talk about alternatives to the anti-democratic backstop”. The EU said it expected the UK to offer “concrete proposals” and that it had “demonstrated our willingness to work 24/7 throughout this long process”. 

Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders arrested

Three prominent pro-democracy activists have been arrested in Hong Kong following ongoing demonstrations in the city. Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, who played a leading role in the 2014 protests, were arrested on Friday and Andy Chan, the head of a now banned pro-independence party, was also detained by police on Thursday. The arrests followed a protest on 21 June which saw protesters blockade police headquarters for 15 hours. Police have refused permission for a rally this weekend – which would be the 13th weekend in a row that protests have occurred – but demonstrators are expected to gather regardless. 

Javid’s media adviser sacked by No10

Tensions between Downing Street and the Treasury have been exposed after Sajid Javid’s media adviser was sacked by No10. The female aide was reportedly dismissed following a meeting with Dominic Cummings and had her security passes immediately confiscated. Under new rules adopted following Boris Johnson’s appointment as Prime Minister, special advisers are managed by Cummings rather than by their individual departments. 

Trump announces formation of US military Space Command

Donald Trump has announced the official establishment of the US military’s Space Command. The new division, which will focus on defending American satellites, is designed to counter advances by China and Russia in the final frontier. “Those who wish to harm the United States, to seek to challenge us on the ultimate high ground of space, it’s going to be a whole different ballgame,” Trump said at a White House ceremony marking the command’s establishment.

Cantona declares “humans will become eternal” in Champions League speech

Eric Cantona has stunned the football world after delivering a philosophical monologue at the 2019/20 Champions League draw in Monaco. The Frenchman and former Manchester United player, who collected the Uefa president’s award, quoted King Lear (“As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport”) before declaring that “soon the science will not only be able to slow down the ageing of the cells, soon the science will fix the cells to the state and so we will become eternal. Only accidents, crimes, wars, will still kill us but unfortunately, crimes, wars, will multiply. I love football. Thank you.” 

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