Sexual-Misconduct Claims Cloud Boris Johnson’s Big Moment

Flavia Krause-Jackson
Sexual-Misconduct Claims Cloud Boris Johnson’s Big Moment

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He wants to talk Brexit, but instead, at every turn, Boris Johnson is dogged by questions about alleged sexual impropriety.

It’s hard to imagine a worse way for the U.K. prime minister to kick off the Conservative Party's annual conference than the barrage of negative headlines. Such gatherings are meant to instill confidence in the party leader, inspire the grassroots and whip up enthusiasm for new policies.

“Get Brexit Done,” scream the banners, but with less than five weeks to go until the U.K. is due to leave the European Union, the promise rings hollow. In London, Johnson’s opponents are working to make sure he doesn’t find a way to wriggle out of a law that forces him to ask for an extension if he can’t get a deal by the end of a summit with EU leaders on Oct. 18. In Brussels, officials say they are waiting for serious written proposals after the conference ends.

Johnson, used to stealing the show at past conferences, is finally the headline act, but even in Manchester there is no escaping the cloud of scandal. His office denied allegations he groped a journalist 20 years ago, and scrutiny is growing over his ties with an American businesswoman during his time as London mayor, which ended in 2016.

In an ominous sign, some ministers aren’t giving their fulsome support for Johnson over the claims.

Global Headlines

Coming out swinging | U.S. President Donald Trump solicited advice on heading off his impeachment from Republican lawmakers and confidants over the weekend, but made clear his main tactic will be publicly ratcheting up his grievances against opponents in the hope of exacting as much political damage as possible.

As Tyler Pager and Sahil Kapur report, claims that Joe Biden tried to stop a probe into his son’s work in Ukraine might have been discredited, but they’re still testing Biden’s pitch that he’s the strongest Democrat to take on Trump in 2020.

No current plans | The Trump administration has issued a partial — and qualified — denial to the revelation that it’s discussing imposing limits on U.S. investments in Chinese companies and financial markets. After Bloomberg News reported deliberations over a potential “financial decoupling” of the world’s two largest economies, a Treasury spokesman said there were no current plans to stop Chinese companies from listing on U.S. exchanges.

The World Trade Organization is due as soon as today to publish a decision authorizing the U.S. to impose tariffs on nearly $8 billion of European goods in response to illegal state aid provided to aircraft maker Airbus. Subscribe to Bloomberg’s Terms of Trade newsletter to receive the big developments each weekday.

Greta Thunberg effect | Austria’s Greens saw their support triple in yesterday’s election, vaulting them into pole position to join Sebastian Kurz in a governing coalition. The Social Democrats, who suffered their worst result since World War I, were clear about the reason: The global climate protests led by the 16-year-old Swedish campaigner are shifting the political goalposts in Austria as more people worry about the environment.

Big anniversary | China is gearing up to celebrate 70 years of Communist Party rule tomorrow, after another weekend of violence in Hong Kong left the city on edge — and bracing for demonstrations coinciding with the pageantry. Festivities in Beijing will include a military parade that will be cheered by China as a display of national pride as well as showcase missiles that have prompted the U.S. in recent years to try and put more firepower in East Asia.

Game on | Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s bid for re-election has been all but written off after he was trounced by Alberto Fernandez in an August primary, sending the economy into a tailspin. He has now begun a national tour ahead of the Oct. 27 election in a plea to win back voters. “This election can be turned around,” Macri told a weekend rally in Buenos Aires.

What to Watch This Week

The U.S. Supreme Court starts a new term that will give the clearest indication yet of how eager the justices are to roll back abortion rights. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pledging to increase the nation’s debt to deliver tax cuts and spending that his team says is needed to stoke growth and provide struggling households with help as he fights for his political life three weeks out from an election. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make a last-ditch effort to glue together a coalition after his talks to form a government failed following the second inconclusive election this year. Afghanistan’s presidential election on Saturday drew the lowest turnout since the nation's first democratic vote in 2004, with an independent watchdog blaming Taliban violence and concerns about fraud for demoralizing voters. Provisional results are due on Oct. 19. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has warned that war between his country and Iran would lead to a “total collapse of the global economy” and said he prefers non-military pressure to stymie Iranian ambitions.

We would like to hear from you so please send us your comments and questions at balancepower@bloomberg.net.And finally ... A Russian scientist wants to defy the informal global ban on using gene-editing technology to manipulate human babies. His plan, which has already drawn a warning from the influential British journal Nature, is getting high-level attention in Moscow and beyond. As Stepan Kravchenko reports, backers are lobbying Vladimir Putin’s scientist daughter hoping to win a blessing from her father, who will make the ultimate decision.

 

--With assistance from Kathleen Hunter, Karen Leigh, Benjamin Harvey, Ben Sills and Gregory White.

To contact the author of this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in London at fjackson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Karl Maier at kmaier2@bloomberg.net

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