Our editors give us the breakdown of this week’s biggest news stories
Scotland: Ryan Morrice
The UK government formally rejected a request for a second Scottish independence referendum by the Scottish government. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote that “another independence referendum would continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade”. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon later tweeted that it was an attempt to “deny democracy”. Thousands of people attended a march for Scottish Independence in Glasgow on January 11, showing that support for independence remains strong in parts of Scotland.
Jackson Carlaw and Michelle Ballantyne have been confirmed as the only two candidates in the race for leadership of the Scottish Conservatives. Jackson Carlaw is the favourite to win. He has been the interim leader since August after Ruth Davidson resigned.
ScotRail was fined £3.3 million in the last year for service failures. Their contract to run train services in Scotland is due to end early in 2022.
United Kingdom: Lucy Wright
In the United Kingdom, reports suggest that Boris Johnson may consider relocating the House of Lords from London to York. This radical proposition proceeds plans for the restoration of the Palace of Westminster, already requiring the 800 peers to relocate to another building for six years from 2025. It has been suggested that the choice of city is a bid to appeal to new Conservative voters in the North. The decision could lead to the creation of thousands of jobs in the Yorkshire area.
Harry and Meghan are to renounce their royal titles along with their royal duties, latest reports outline. The couple are also said to intend to repay the £2.4 million of taxpayer money for the refurbishment of their UK home.
Protestors are planning a day of activism in the Lake District, responding to “the increasing push to develop the national park for commercial gain” with locals fearing that this will eventually destroy the beauty and tranquility of the area for future generations. Thousands of people are to descend upon the area of natural beauty in North West England on February 1st, with Tim Farron, former Liberal Democrat leader and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale expected to be amongst the protestors.
Americas: Alex Watt
In North America, Justin Trudeau has pledged C$25,000 to victims’ families following the shooting down of Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752 by Iran. Fifty-seven Canadian nationals were onboard the flight, and the C$25,000 per-victim is designed to help Canadian citizens with costs such as travel. Unsurprisingly, Canada has been at the forefront of a number of states calling for a full, independent, international enquiry into the crash following the loss of 176 lives on the plane.
In South America, Brazilian Culture Minister Roberto Alvim has been fired after using parts of a speech by Nazi Germany’s head of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, in a clip posted to his twitter profile. Mr Alvim was detailing an award for “heroic” and “national art”, all the while Luhengrin by Wagner – Hitler’s favourite composer – played in the background. Mr Alvim dismissed the allegations as a “rhetorical coincidence”. The Brazilian Israelite Confederation said “To emulate [Goebbels’] view… is a frightening sign of his vision of culture, which must be combated and contained.”
Africa: Beatrice Omotosho
This week on the continent of Africa, seven leaders of several African nations gathered in Togo as they prepared for a 2 day summit against fake drugs that has been an issue most especially in sub Saharan Africa. This is an issue that is affecting millions both directly and indirectly and needs to be addressed.
The CFA Franc, used by 8 countries is to be renamed as “the Eco” however Nigeria, amongst 5 other west African nations have opposed this new unilateral rename. The currency was set up by France in 1945 and is backed with reserves at the bank of France in pairs hence many attack it as a colonial relic. Ecowas has a goal to create a single currency which they also want to name “the Eco” therefore there are objections about this rename of the Franc as expected with many believing the rename is “not in line” with plans outlined by Ecowas.
Asia: Max Dowden
This week, Taiwan experienced an important, and heavily divisive presidential election, which saw incumbent Tsai Ing-wen re-elected. The election was split along both generational and ideological lines, and her success is expected to be a boon for the private sector, but pose increased challenges for neighbouring China, as Tsai has been heavily critical of Beijing in recent months.
Meanwhile, India is seeing its largest military re-organization in decades, bringing a key consolidation of the military command structure under fewer leadership officials. This streamlining comes amid increased tensions with the country’s primary geopolitical rival of Pakistan.
Finally, the president of South Korea has this week introduced major reforms to the country’s justice system, in an effort to curb the power of government prosecutors. While this is officially concerned with preventing abuses of power, media watchdogs have also become suspicious of the nature of several reassignments, including prosecutors known for investigating government corruption.
Middle East: Luca Delpippo
Efforts to form a cabinet in Lebanon have once more fallen as protests have turned violent in Beirut in past weeks. Protestors are demanding a technocratic government to deal with the country’s looming economic disaster as well as secular electoral reform. This is under the backdrop of a newly appointed Prime Minister Hassan Diab, backed by Hezbollah after protests ousted former PM Saad al-Hariri.
Berlin is to host peace talks for Libya, as UN political solutions have failed, with violence recently intensifying and Turkish involvement in the region receiving backlash from opposition governments in Libya.