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Briefing :- 31/10/17

Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 31st of October, 2017 :-

1. Ousted Catalan leader Puigdemont accepts new election, says ‘long road’ to independence :-

Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont said on Tuesday he accepted the snap election called by Spain’s central government after Madrid took control of the region to block its push for independence.

Puigdemont, speaking at a news conference in Brussels, also said he was not seeking asylum in Belgium after Spain’s state prosecutor recommended charges for rebellion and sedition be brought against him. He would return to Catalonia when given “guarantees” by the Spanish government, he said.

Puigdemont’s announcement that he would accept the regional election on December 21 confirmed that the Madrid government had gained the upper hand in the protracted struggle over Catalonia, for now at least.

Resistance to Madrid’s imposition of direct control on Catalonia failed to materialise at the start of the week and the secessionist leadership is in disarray.

Spain’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday blocked the unilateral declaration of independence made by the regional parliament on Friday, a move that gained no traction and led to its dismissal less than an hour after it was made.

“I ask the Catalan people to prepare for a long road. Democracy will be the foundation of our victory,” Puigdemont said.

The Spanish government has said Puigdemont was welcome to take his chances and stand in the December 21 election, called by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as a way to resolve the stand-off.

The political crisis, Spain’s gravest in the four decades since the return of democracy in the late 1970s, was triggered by an independence referendum in Catalonia on October 1.

Though it was declared illegal by Spanish courts and less than half Catalonia’s eligible voters took part, the pro-secessionist regional government said the vote gave it a mandate for independence.

European nations including Britain, Germany and France have backed Rajoy and rejected an independent Catalan state, although some have called for dialogue between the opposing sides.

2. Strong earthquake in eastern Indonesia, no casualties reported :-

A strong earthquake with a 6.3 magnitude struck eastern Indonesia on Tuesday, causing some damage to buildings and sending people running from their homes.

The quake struck at a depth of 32.4 kilometres (20 miles) and was centred 32km west of Hila on the island of Ambon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

There were no immediate reports of injuries and no tsunami warning was issued. The USGS website assessed the likelihood of deaths or major damage as low.

“There was damage and it is still being monitored,” Mochammad Riyadi, an official at Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency, told AFP.

The earthquake was one of five tremors that rattled Maluku province within 30 minutes, according to the agency. The others were all under magnitude 6.

“People panicked and scattered out of houses and buildings,” said national disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

An earthquake struck Indonesia’s western province of Aceh last December, killing more than 100 people, injuring many more and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

3. Bank of England suspects upto 75,000 losses in financial services post-Brexit :-

The Bank of England suspects that up to 75,000 jobs could be lost in financial services following Britain’s departure from the European Union, according to BBC on Monday.

In a study done by Oliver Wyman, a management consultancy which has often been quoted by banking lobby groups assessing the impact of Brexit, in 2016 suggested that there could be around 65,000 and 75,000 job losses, which is what the current scenario looks like.

The report also suggested that around 40,000 job losses could solely be from financial services and about 30-40,000 going in related fields like legal work and professional services.

The Bank of England has asked banks and other financial services firms about their plan of action for both a hard and soft Brexit scenario.

If a deal is fixed, the Bank of England assumes that job losses would be lower, though still significant, as banks and other financial services firms would shuffle some jobs, however, if does not work in their favor then 10,000 jobs figure is likely to be the day one of Brexit, BBC reported.

In January, the chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, Xavier Rolet, claimed that Brexit could cause the City of London upto 200,000 approximately the if the Government fails to provide a systematic plan for post-Brexit operations.

Moreover, a pole conducted by Reuters of more than 100 finance firms indicates that the industry expects the number of job losses to be below 10K in the few years after Brexit.

The remaining 27 EU states agreed at a summit earlier this month to start analyzing feasible options for trade talks with the UK.

4. Reports of Brexit deadlock exaggerated: EU President Tusk :-

EU President Donald Tusk said Friday that reports of a deadlock in Brexit talks were “exaggerated” after leaders agreed at a summit to start internal preparations to unlock the next phase of negotiations.

Tusk added that Britain’s proposals on future relations would be taken into account by the EU’s internal work on a trade deal, in a further olive branch to British Prime Minister Theresa May.

“My impression is that reports of the deadlock between the European Union and the UK have been exaggerated, and while progress has not been sufficient, it does not mean there is no progress at all,” Tusk told a news conference in Brussels.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker played down fears Britain could leave the bloc without a deal in 2019.

“Our working assumption is not the no deal scenario, I hate the no deal scenario,” said Juncker, standing alongside Tusk. “I want to have a fair deal with Britain.”

Tusk said a face-to-face meeting with Theresa May and a meeting with the remaining 27 EU states had contributed to a more “positive narrative”, despite the bloc saying there was not sufficient progress to start full trade talks until at least December.

“My feeling today and in my tete-a-tete with Theresa May, I feel for sure that both sides present only goodwill,” he said.

The approval of preparatory work on a trade deal “would not be possible” without May’s key speech in Florence last month outlining further Brexit plans, including on the bill Britain must pay.

“I would like to reassure our British friends that in our internal work we will take account of proposals present there (in Florence),” he added.

5. Nuclear tunnel collapse may have killed 200 in North Korea: Report :-

Japanese broadcaster TV Asahi said on Tuesday that a tunnel collapse at North Korea’s nuclear site may have killed at least 200 people.

About 100 workers at the Punggye-ri nuclear site were affected by the initial collapse, which took place around September 10, the broadcaster said.

A second collapse during a rescue operation meant it was possible the death toll could have exceeded 200, TV Asahi said citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation.

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