Brexit headaches, the next Juncker and the man who won a bookshop in a raffle

Planet Business: Also this week, a ‘Sovereign’ nation and Europe’s tech proposals

Brexit headache: Conservative MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson and Peter Bone at the launch of a report claiming the UK economy would be better off with a hard Brexit. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Brexit headache: Conservative MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson and Peter Bone at the launch of a report claiming the UK economy would be better off with a hard Brexit. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images


In numbers: Terrorism takedowns


Number of minutes Facebook, Google, Twitter and other tech companies will have to remove extremist content from their platforms before being liable to fines under proposals unveiled by the European Commission.


Proportion of their annual revenue that the companies could be fined if their track record at removing terrorist propaganda exhibits “systematic failures”.


Sum this would translate to in the case of Google parent company Alphabet, while the maximum fine would be more than $1.6 billion in the case of Facebook, based on 2017 revenues.

Image of the week: Brexit bash

Was there a party the night before the launch of the Tory Brexiteers’ fantasy epic A World Trade Deal: The Complete Guide? Did everyone get smashed on English sparkling wine and sing God Save the Queen until dawn? Conservative MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson and Peter Bone, not the world’s best-loved trio, look strangely less than enthused at the House of Commons launch of their own document, which seeks to explain how Brexit’s “Project Fear” can magically become “Project Prosperity”. Sadly, despite the hopeful evidence provided by this hangdog hat-trick, stockpiles of hubris and arrogance remain overflowing in the Eurosceptic corner of Westminster.

Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

The lexicon: Sovereign

Sovereign, aka SOV, is “crypto that is real money”, courtesy of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which plans to make the blockchain-based currency a second form of legal tender alongside the US dollar, with the first virtual coins due to be issued later this year. For its president, this is “another step of manifesting our national liberty”. However, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is not impressed. Authorities in the nation of hundreds of Pacific Ocean islands should “seriously reconsider the issuance of the digital currency as legal tender”, the IMF has warned, saying the move threatens the country’s financial integrity and its relationship with the US and could even lead to a disruption to the foreign aid on which it depends.

Getting to know: Ceisjan Van Heerden

Ceisjan Van Heerden is a Dutch science-fiction fan who works in customer service and regularly bought books in Bookends in Cardigan, on the coast of Wales. Now he’s the “shocked” new owner of the bookshop, after winning it in a raffle. Paul Morris, its owner for the past four years, was taking early retirement, but rather than sell the profitable business, he wanted to give it to someone who might not otherwise have the chance to run a bookshop. So anyone who had spent more than £20 was given the right to enter the draw, with Van Heerden’s name drawn from a hat of 60 names at the prize ceremony to the strains of Abba’s The Winner Takes it All. “It’s surreal,” says Van Heerden, who plans to run the shop in conjunction with an online friend he has never met but is moving from Iceland to Wales. He said: “It might sound strange, but we can make it work.” Sounds like a bestseller in its own right.

The list: Juncker’s potential successors

Jean-Claude Juncker has only a year left to go in his term as European Commission president, having said he won’t stand for a second term. IMF managing director Christine Lagarde has this week ruled herself out. So who are the runners and riders to replace him?

1 Manfred Weber: The German MEP, leader of the conservative group in the European Parliament, is known to fancy a crack at the top job.

2 Michel Barnier: A stint as president might be a holiday compared with the French man’s current role as chief negotiator for Brussels in its exit talks with the UK.

3 Alex Stubb: The former prime minister of Finland says “European politics is always an appealing affair for me”, which is nice for him.

4 Ursula von der Leyen: The German defence minister has been described as “the ultimate powerfrau” by the Financial Times.

5 Margrethe Vestager: The EU competition commissioner, a Danish liberal, has the right poise but possibly not the right politics to win the necessary backing.