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Seven lawmakers quit UK Labour Party citing Brexit ‘betrayal’, anti-Semitism

LONDON (Reuters) – Seven Labour lawmakers quit Britain’s main opposition party on Monday over leader Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit and a row over anti-Semitism, saying Labour had been “hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left.”

The departure of the small group of lawmakers underlines the mounting frustration with Corbyn’s reluctance to change his Brexit strategy and start campaigning for a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

With only 39 days until Britain leaves the EU in its biggest foreign and trade policy shift in more than 40 years, divisions over Brexit have fragmented British politics, breaking down traditional party lines and creating new coalitions across the country’s left/right divide.

Trump policies unite allies against him at European security forum

MUNICH (Reuters) – In 2009, then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden came to Munich to “press the reset button” with Russia. A decade later he came again to offer the world better relations, this time with his own country.

Promising that “America will be back” once Donald Trump leaves office, Biden won a standing ovation at the Munich Security Conference from delegates who find the president’s brusque foreign policy stance hard to like.

But their elation also exposed the weakened state of Western diplomacy in the face of Trump’s assertiveness, according to European diplomats and politicians who were present.

Biden’s successor, Mike Pence, was met with silence at a reception in the palatial Bavarian parliament on Friday evening after he delivered his signature line: “I bring you greetings from the 45th president of the United States, President Donald Trump.”

His four-day trip to Europe succeeded only in deepening divisions with traditional allies over questions such as Iran and Venezuela and offered little hope in how to deal with threats ranging from nuclear arms to climate change, diplomats and officials said.

Misgivings about Washington’s role in the world are being felt by ordinary people as well as foreign policy specialists. In Germany and France, half the population see U.S. power as a threat, up sharply from 2013 and a view shared by 37 percent of Britons, the Washington-based Pew Research Center said in a report before the Munich foreign policy gathering.

U.S. agency submits auto tariff probe report to White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Commerce Department sent a report on Sunday to U.S. President Donald Trump that could unleash steep tariffs on imported cars and auto parts, provoking a sharp backlash from the industry even before it is unveiled, the agency confirmed.

Late on Sunday, a department spokeswoman said it would not disclose any details of the “Section 232” national security report submitted to Trump by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The disclosure of the submission came less than two hours before the end of a 270-day deadline.

Trump has 90 days to decide whether to act upon the recommendations, which auto industry officials expect to include at least some tariffs on fully assembled vehicles or on technologies and components related to electric, automated, connected and shared vehicles.

As the White House received the report, the industry unleashed what is expected to be a massive lobbying campaign against it.

The industry has warned that feared tariffs of up to 25 percent on millions of imported cars and parts would add thousands of dollars to vehicle costs and potentially lead to hundreds of thousands of job losses throughout the U.S. economy.

The Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, which represents auto parts suppliers, warned that tariffs will shrink investment in the United States at a time when the auto industry is already reeling from declining sales, Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum, and tariffs on auto parts from China.

The Commerce Department started its investigation in May 2018 at Trump’s request. Known as a Section 232 investigation, its purpose was to determine the effects of imports on national security and it had to be completed by Sunday.

Automakers and parts suppliers are anticipating its recommendation options will include broad tariffs of up to 20 percent to 25 percent on assembled cars and parts, or narrower tariffs targeting components and technologies related to new energy cars, autonomous, internet-connected and shared vehicles.

Trump said on Friday that tariffs protect industry and also help win trade agreements.

A report from the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, published on Friday showed its worst-case scenario of a tariff of 25 percent would cost 366,900 U.S. jobs in the auto and related industries.

U.S. light duty vehicle prices would increase by $2,750 on average, including U.S.-built vehicles, reducing annual U.S. sales by 1.3 million units and forcing many consumers to the used car market, the think tank’s report said.

California tells Trump that lawsuit over border wall is ‘imminent’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – California will “imminently” challenge President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to obtain funds for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on Sunday.

“Definitely and imminently,” Becerra told ABC’s “This Week” program when asked whether and when California would sue the Trump administration in federal court. Other states controlled by Democrats are expected to join the effort.

“We are prepared, we knew something like this might happen. And with our sister state partners, we are ready to go,” he said.

Trump invoked the emergency powers on Friday under a 1976 law after Congress rebuffed his request for $5.7 billion to help build the wall that was a signature 2016 campaign promise.

The move is intended to allow him to redirect money appropriated by Congress for other purposes to wall construction.

China’s Xi: trade talks with U.S. to continue in Washington next week

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday trade talks with the United States will continue in Washington next week and that he hopes the two sides will be able to reach a mutually beneficial deal in the upcoming negotiations, state media reported.

Xi said during a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that talks in Beijing this week made progress and that China is willing to solve economic and trade disputes with the United States via cooperation, according to a report by Xinhua.

Lighthizer and Mnuchin said during the meeting that they maintain hope although there is still much work to be done, and that they are willing to work with China to reach a deal that is in line with the interests of both countries, according to Xinhua.

‘Decide what you want to do over Brexit, and hurry up!’ – French minister

PARIS (Reuters) – Britain should decide what to do regarding its exit from the European Union as soon as possible, French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said on Friday.

“I am telling our British friends that it is about time to decide whether to leave on friendly terms or abruptly,” she told RTL radio.

“It is a purely British choice. What we are saying is : hurry up!”

Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a defeat on her Brexit strategy on Thursday that undermined her pledge to EU leaders to get her divorce deal approved if they grant her concessions.

Seizing on Huawei’s troubles, Samsung bets big on network gear

SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics is pouring resources into its telecom network equipment business, aiming to capitalize on the security fears hobbling China’s Huawei, according to company officials and other industry executives.

Potential customers are taking notice of Samsung’s efforts to reinvent itself as a top-tier supplier for 5G wireless networks and bridge a big gap with market leader Huawei and industry heavyweights Ericsson and Nokia.

French carrier Orange’s chief technology officer, Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, visited Japan last year and was impressed with the pace of 5G preparations using alternative equipment makers including Samsung, a company representative told Reuters.

Orange, which operates in 27 markets and counts Huawei as its top equipment supplier, will run its first French 5G tests with Samsung this year.

“Samsung is doing a big push in Europe at the moment,” one industry source said, declining to be identified.

Huawei is battling allegations by the United States and some other Western countries that its equipment could enable Chinese spying and should not be used in 5G networks, which will offer higher speeds and a host of new services.

Australia and New Zealand have joined the United States in effectively barring Huawei from 5G, and many other countries, especially in Europe, are considering a ban. Huawei denies that its gear presents any security risk.

Its woes have presented Samsung with a rare opportunity. Telecom firms would ordinarily stick with their 4G providers for 5G upgrades as they can use existing gear to minimize costs, but many firms may now be under political pressure to switch.

Trump vows emergency declaration over wall, agrees to shutdown-averting bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump vowed on Thursday to declare a national emergency in an attempt to fund his U.S.-Mexico border wall without congressional approval, a step likely to plunge him into a battle with Congress over constitutional powers.

Conceding defeat in his earlier demand that Congress provide him with $5.7 billion in wall money, Trump agreed to sign a government-funding bill that lacks money for his wall, but prevents another damaging government shutdown.

The bill, passed overwhelmingly by both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday, contains money for fencing and other forms of border security. But it ignores the wall, which Trump in his 2016 campaign promised Mexico would pay for, arguing it is needed to check illegal immigration and drugs.

The bill was expected to go to the White House on Friday for the president’s signature before he flies to his private Mar-a-Lago golf club in Florida for a holiday weekend break.

“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action – including a national emergency,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

An emergency declaration could infringe on Congress’ authority to make major decisions about taxpayer funds, a fundamental check and balance spelled out in the Constitution.

Apple to ship iPhones with only Qualcomm chips to German stores

(Reuters) – Apple Inc said Thursday that it will resume selling older iPhone models in its stores in Germany after they were banned last year, but only with chips from Qualcomm Inc, which is in a global legal battle against the Cupertino company.

Apple said it had “no choice” but to stop using some chips from Intel Corp in iPhones headed to Germany in order to comply with a patent infringement lawsuit Qualcomm won against Apple there in December.

Newer iPhones with Intel chips remain on sale in Germany.

“Intel’s modem products are not involved in this lawsuit and are not subject to this or any other injunction,” Steven Rodgers, Intel’s general counsel, said in a statement.