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UK prime minister moves to strengthen Brexit hand

April 19, 2017 5:56 AM
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May calls voters to polls, less than a month after categorically denying she might

Cynical political game-playing or the vote Britain needs? Theresa May’s move to hold a snap general election to strengthen her Brexit hand was met with an unsurprising divided response. The poll will give the UK prime minister an opportunity to win a direct mandate for the first time to be prime minister. The latest polling data show that if the election were held now, the conservatives would have an 18-point lead, an opportunity that proved too good for Mrs May to pass up.

French terror threat averted Three kilos of home-made explosives and an Isis flag were found in the home of one of two men arrested in Marseille on Tuesday for planning a terrorist attack in France just days ahead of the presidential election. (FT)

Not so fast Last week, the White House trumpeted the departure of a ship in waters near North Korea as a message-sending deterrent and proof of Donald Trump’s muscular foreign policy style. It turns out that the USS Carl Vinson was sailing in the opposite direction and was nowhere near the Korean peninsula. (Defense News, NYT)

Wining and dining China The same day Ivanka Trump entertained President Xi Jinping of China at her dad’s golf resort in Florida earlier this month, her company won provisional approval from Beijing for three new trademarks, in the latest sign of the potential conflicts of interest of the US president and his family. (AP)

Goldman Sachs punctures optimism Investors primed for a bright update from the US bank were disappointed. It pierced some of the optimism surrounding US bank stocks in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, revealing a poor bond performance and flat first-quarter revenues. (FT)

Bots and backlash at Facebook Executives are using the social network’s annual conference to lure businesses into using the site by deploying AI to enhance how customers communicate with companies. But the site’s reinvention and future vision is being overshadowed by new political challenges, with critics charging that it spreads fake news, creates ideological bubbles and fails to remove offensive content. (FT)

Baidu opens up The Beijing-based company will share software technology it is developing for self-driving cars in a bid to catch up with competitors including General Motors and Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet. (WSJ)

Tycoon breaks silence Dalian Wanda founder Wang Jianlin has confirmed that Beijing blocked his company’s deal to buy US TV production company Dick Clark Productions — and explains what it means for his empire. (FT)

The anti-Trump movement The Georgia election result, where a Democrat whose slogan is “Make Trump Furious” is the frontrunner, could be a bellwether of the anti-Trump tide. (NYT)

UK carworkers Workers at BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars are due to hold a series of 24-hour strikes at factories across the UK in a dispute about pensions. (FT)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.

Dealing with America’s trade follies Martin Wolf is no fan of US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross’s “nonsense” trade comments, which “show one can be a billionaire and yet not understand how the economy works, just as one can be an athlete and not understand physiology”. (FT)

The volatility crisis approaches What gives with Wall Street’s “fear gauge”? The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or Vix for short, should be reflecting the potential peril for markets — but the gauge’s average level this year is at its lowest point in its 24-year history. A long read on one of the finance industry’s biggest enigmas. (FT)

‘Congratulations Donald’ The first offering of what really happened during the 2016 US election is out. “Shattered” depicts Hillary Clinton’s campaign as dysfunctional and outlines its many mistakes. (NYT)

Rags to Pokémon riches The creator of Pokémon Go grew up in extreme poverty in rural China, selling tofu in a hand-drawn cart in minus 30C weather. This is how the now 30-year-old Tatsuo Nomura wound up as the mastermind behind a global social phenomenon. (NAR)

Why you should question your boss Michael Skapinker has some advice for global leaders and CEOs. He is of the view that the protests against South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, the Barclays whistleblowing scandal, and the United Airlines debacle all show the value of having employees who say no. (FT)

Why Theresa May called a snap election Robert Shrimsley, Miranda Green and Janan Ganesh discuss why the UK’s prime minister, Theresa May, has called a snap general election on June 8 and what that means for Brexit negotiations. (FT)


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