Germans soft on Brexit, but France plays hardball
EU leaders softened their stance on Brexit talks this week amid fears in Brussels that UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s government could collapse if negotiations remained deadlocked.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said she was now in “absolutely no doubt” the EU and the UK could make a success of negotiations. She accepted for the first time that both sides must make concessions.
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, took a firmer line, saying that May’s offer of à20-billion (R320-billion) to settle the Brexit bill was “not halfway there”. May did not rule out paying as much as à60-billion as a final settlement.
In Syria, the capital of the Islamic State caliphate, Raqqa, was captured by USbacked forces who declared victory on Tuesday, raising flags over the last jihadist footholds after a four-month battle. The Sunni militant group overran Raqqa in January 2014, seizing control from rebel factions opposed to the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In Spain, King Felipe said his nation was facing an “unacceptable secession attempt” by Catalonia, as the Spanish government moved to clip the autonomous region’s wings after last month’s referendum vote.