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21 August 2019updated 07 Jun 2021 4:54pm

Five things you need to know today: Boris Johnson set for Brexit failure on Germany trip

By New Statesman

Merkel expected to reject Johnson’s backstop demands 

Angela Merkel is set to reject Boris Johnson’s demand that the Irish backstop be scrapped from the EU withdrawal agreement as she meets the Prime Minister on his first overseas visit. Having already been criticised by European officials after denouncing the backstop – designed to prevent a new hard border – as “anti-democratic” and “unviable”, Johnson said: “At the moment it is absolutely true that our friends and partners are a bit negative … but I think we’ll get there.” However, Norbert Röttgen, the head of the German foreign affairs committee and an ally of Merkel, said: “The letter to the president of the European Council is not a serious offer, and Boris Johnson knows it.” 

Trump cancels visit to Denmark over Greenland furore

Donald Trump has cancelled a state visit to Denmark after the country’s Prime Minister said that Greenland was not for sale to the US. Mette Frederiksen described Trump’s proposed purchase of the semi-autonomous Danish territory as “an absurd discussion” that she hoped was not “seriously meant”. The US President, who had been due to visit on 2 September at the invitation of Queen Margrethe II, subsequently tweeted that Denmark was “a very special country with incredible people” but that owing to Frederiksen’s comments he would not be visiting.   

Venezuelan government confirms meetings with US

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has confirmed that senior officials from the country have met with members of the US government in recent months. Maduro’s comments during a televised address on Tuesday night followed reports that Diosdado Cabello, the head of the constituent assembly, had met with Trump’s Latin America adviser, Mauricio Claver-Carone, in order to seek guarantees that he and others would not face prosecution for alleged abuses and crimes if they ousted Maduro. 

Shipping containers used to house homeless children in UK

More than 210,000 UK children are estimated to be homeless, with some being temporarily housed in converted shipping containers, a new report has warned. The Children’s Commissioner for England said it was a scandal that 124,000 children were recorded as living in temporary accommodation, an 80 per cent increase since 2010, while a further 90,000 were believed to be “sofa-surfing”. A further 375,000 children live in households that have fallen behind on rent or mortgage payments, putting them at risk of becoming homeless.

Walmart sues Tesla over alleged solar panel fires

Walmart has filed a lawsuit against Tesla after alleging that solar panels supplied by the electric carmaker were responsible for fires at seven of its stores. The retail behemoth said that the fires caused millions of dollars of damage and led to the closure of an Ohio branch for eight days. “This is a breach of contract action arising from years of gross negligence and failure to live up to industry standards by Tesla,” the lawsuit said.

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