Uncertain Future for Greece

By Rowan Williams
  • – Greece unable to pay debts, says Minister
  • – Labour abandons opposition to EU referendum bill
  • – China, Peru agree consultation on railway project


Greece will be unable to repay its debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month unless it can reach a deal with its creditors, Greek Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis has said. The comments are the most explicit remarks yet on the possibility of a Greek default. Greece has struggled to balance debt obligations with paying wages and pensions, with the governing Syriza party still attempting to negotiate a further £5.1 billion in funding. Negotiations have been hampered by Athens’ opposition to introducing spending cuts in order to secure funding.

The Labour Party has abandoned its opposition to a bill guaranteeing a UK referendum on EU membership. The announcement by Party Leader Harriet Harman increases the likelihood of such a referendum being held earlier than expected. Prime Minister David Cameron has currently pledged to hold a referendum on Europe before the end of 2017. Following the announcement, Harman said that despite its change in position, Labour would continue to campaign for Britain staying in the EU. Next week the Prime Minister will meet with European leaders to negotiate reforming the terms of Britain’s EU membership.

Chinese plans to build a 3,300 mile rail link across South America have moved forward, after China and Peru agreed to hold a feasibility study on the construction of such a rail link. The announcement comes as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Peru for the third leg of a tour of Latin American nations. The railway would run from Peru’s Pacific coast to Brazil’s Atlantic coast. The railway has stoked controversy due to its planned running through the Amazon rainforest; opponents say such a railway would damage the forest’s ecosystem and could interfere with uncontacted tribes.

The Papers

The Observer leads with news of Ireland’s “huge backing to same-sex marriages” in a nationwide referendum on the issue. Ireland is the first country to legalise same-sex marriage “by popular vote”, the paper writes. The Independent on Sunday leads with news that “Scotland will not get high-speed rail”. The Scottish National Party is “furious” over the decision, the paper reports, after authorities decide to ‘dump’ a planned high-speed rail link to Glasgow. The Sunday Telegraph writes of a “Senior Tory’s threat to quit over Human Rights Act” in its headline. The unnamed member of government may have to stand down in order to vote against Conservative plans to abolish the Human Rights Act. The Sunday Times leads with news of a “U-turn on EU referendum” by the Labour Party. Labour will support a bill on holding an EU membership referendum, the paper writes, after Party Leader Harriet Harman reversed the position of predecessor Ed Miliband.

British Media on China

On the Chinese stock market: The Chinese stock market was the subject of an analysis piece from The Daily Telegraph this weekend. The piece by Tom Stevenson writes that the market’s “bubble shows no sign of bursting yet”, despite “a couple of high profile share price implosions last week”. Stevenson writes of one firm whose share price is now 40 times higher than it was during its initial public offering. Disagreements remain over whether China is currently facing a stock market bubble, the piece continues, but concludes that even if it is, the market “continues to march higher”.

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